How do Law Firms Bill their Clients?

  07. August 2023, von Sebastian

Keeping track of your time helps to verify that you are billing correctly. It reveals the correlation between the cost of the service provided and the fees charged. Ignore recorded time, but only if you value bill and pay your staff based on a percentage of fees collected. Salaries represent a fixed obligation paid regardless of realization and collections.

  • The low-end package is typically the absolute minimum to get the job done and therefore the one that appeals to maybe 15% of the customers.
  • While larger law firms might not have an issue with the billable hour, many smaller firms do.
  • Want to learn about the different types of invoices you can issue, what elements they contain, and when it’s best to use each one?
  • The amount you charge is based on the value of the service or information you provide your client.
  • Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice.

Keep reading to learn more about this newly trending accounting practice. Clients who previously complained about being charged for every phone call saw the value of her services in a new light and sent her referrals like „crazy,“ she said, even when their fees increased tenfold. More than a few authors and reviewers in recent years seem to be minimizing the importance of tracking time for billing. Calling it “myopic and prosaic,” they promote value billing as a replacement. However, my experience as a former partner in two successful CPA firms has taught me that both value and time based billing are indispensable.

Types of Billing

The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional. NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. Though there are benefits to value billing, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much a client may value your services in monetary terms. It takes some calculating, benchmarking, and time to determine your pricing and expenses.

None of the billing methods we covered are necessarily one-size-fits-all solutions, either. To that end, another benefit of contingency fees is that they can be combined with any other fee structure to reward a favorable outcome to litigation. You can mix success incentives with any kind of billing we’ve mentioned in this series and see your firm’s profits boosted—provided you’re successful in winning your clients’ in their legal matters. So, if we’re seeing more customized, value-based, performance-based fee agreements, that means law firms are working out contracts with clients more like someone who is renovating an old home. It may depend on what you value most, your tastes, your region, who your neighbors are, what’s behind that wall and whether they deliver the results you wanted. Hourly billing, flat fees, blended rates and capped fees are great, but are not one-size-fits all.

Accounting Education

They can be more open and helpful with you when you can let them know exactly how much you’ll charge for each task. You’ll be able to perform your job better when you know up front how much you’re going to charge. You’ll also be more likely to upsell additional services if you offer them.

Value-based pricing vs. value billing

Start the process by figuring out your internal value pricing rates. Make a table of the services you will provide and the approximate pricing for each—remembering to use bundled pricing instead of hourly rates. These prices are a guideline and may vary based on your client conversation and their specific needs. Using these reviews, practitioners can quickly learn how to have better value conversations, how to price their services better, and how to provide a better overall experience for clients, Simmons said.

Effective time and billing software provides information and assurance on the appropriateness of billed services and when firm management needs improvement. With value pricing, you’re focused more on getting a favorable outcome than the time you spend on a case. Your pricing depends on your performance and the value you provide to your client, making the entire experience more positive overall. Thus, contingency fees can only ever be supplemental to another fee structure. Relying on winning as your sole way of making money is a recipe for financial disaster. When anything can happen, putting too much of a reliance on success is essentially gambling your firm’s future.

Firm Memberships

Under the value billing model, service providers are rewarded for their efficiency and innovation, while clients are able to more accurately assess the cost of services. Aileen Leventon, a former M&A lawyer, recommends that attorneys express the economic value of their contribution in terms of your business objectives and the impact on your financial statements. Some firms work staff to death to compensate for low invoice realization rates (the ratio of the amounts invoiced to recorded chargeable time). This is self-defeating since it leads to low morale and cannot create prosperity and abundance in the long run.

Opportunities for Alternative Fee Arrangements

Baker’s first step in the process is having an in-depth value conversation between the practitioner and the client. „You’re really asking the client, not what do they need, but what are they trying to achieve. What is the desired end goal?“ Baker said. By asking probing questions, a CPA can understand the client’s situation and develop a proposal with tiered packages of services. Plus, he added, „no one else cares about how long it takes you. It’s all about results.“ Listening to your client helps you to properly identify and understand their needs.

Value-based accounting is best for businesses that pride themselves on the value they provide their clients instead of the time they serve them for. However, for long-time practitioners of hourly-based grant eligibility accounting, this phenomenon is likely a tremendous leap of faith. These articles and related content is the property of The Sage Group plc or its contractors or its licensors (“Sage”).

 

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