The business side of lawyering is about revenue generation, getting paid for work done. It’s also about finding and keeping loyal clients. According to Clio Legal Trends Report 2020 there are many problems related to law firm billing systems. The report cites average billing system leaks in many areas including “time billed but unpaid” (14%), and “uncollected time” (12%). Almost 30% of billed work is unpaid. Do these collection problems reflect client discontent? To answer this question, I asked my attorney panel about their perceptions of the linkages between client satisfaction and law firm approaches to billing.
The Link Between Billing and Client Satisfaction
Thinking that perhaps the leakage was related to client unhappiness, I asked my panelists if they see billing practices as an important component of client satisfaction. They do. They all tied pricing and billing to client expectations and stressed the importance of managing them from the get-go. Joel Weiss, managing partner of Weiss & Arons, an IP boutique, sums it up: “One, if not the single most, important theme in client satisfaction is that the attorney meets client expectations. The job of the attorney is to match client satisfaction with the work provided and the fees billed.” Elissa Hecker, intellectual property lawyer and principal, The Law Office of Elissa D. Hecker, agrees: “Absolutely. Up-front communication about billing and rates is so important so that expectations are set at the start of the relationship.”