“A typical work flow process might include receipt of the invoice by a billing coordinator, initial automated and manual review against law department billing policies, invoice scanning and matter management system update, routing to the responsible attorney for approval, notification of the business unit, and electronic feed to accounts payable with an ability to hold back payment on only those portions of legal bills that are ‘out of policy.’”
This path of a law firm bill come from West’s Successful Partnering between Inside and Outside Counsel, its chapter 14 on billing as updated by Brackett Denniston and Alex Dimitrief of General Electric. It is hardly a typical path. It assumes a large department [“a billing coordinator”] with industrial-grade software [“automated review” and “scanning” and “matter management system”]. It assumes a paperless system, but oddly that some bills at least arrive in hardcopy. It assumes that business units learn about individual bills [“notification of the business unit”]. Finally, the transmittal of data to accounts payable is assumed to be electronic [“electronic feed to accounts payable’”].
How invoices are handled varies enormously. This version is GE’s, not that of a typical small legal department. Further, there is no mention of the common practice of coding the bill with an account number and other information. There is also no mention of outside counsel guidelines except to the extent that mandates memorialized in them might be embodied in the “review against law department billing policies.”