Why don’t law firms test their invoices against their client’s e-billing rules before submitting them?

A comment in InsideCounsel, June 2010 at 57, triggered several thoughts. “The next real advance would be for firms to be able to test their bill against their client’s guidelines before submission and avoid the whole back and forth.”

A good idea, but it will encounter challenges. I suppose vendors of e-billing systems might license mini-versions that simply allow a law firm to pre-test its bill against what the software examines.

More problematic, however, is the willingness of a legal department to disclose to the firm what it looks for in bills. Would a general counsel want to make clear that no one may bill more than 10 hours a day? Yes, but the ways around that are many and a firm that finds one of its entries has been flagged could easily “correct” that. If most bills pass the tests of the software, how will law departments prove their ROI? Finally, e-billing rules don’t get anywhere near assessing whether the amount billed stands in reasonable proportion to the value delivered. The math checks and rule check-offs can be 100 percent right but the bill may still be either a bargain or a burglary.

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