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How much should law departments care about the cost of processing invoices?

Five metrics in the Corporate Legal Standard’s “Top 25 Law Department Operations Metrics” (in its report dated Nov. 10, 2005 at 10) have to do with legal invoice processing. In order, those metrics are “legal invoices processed per accounts payable FTE”; “remittances processed per accounts receivable FTE”; “cost per invoice”; “cost per remittance”; and “average time to process each legal invoice.”

It would be hard for most law departments to state how many full-time equivalent employees of the department handle accounts payable. If the metric looks to accounts payable staff outside the law department, the task is even harder. I am guessing that remittances are checks sent out, but it makes little sense to differentiate staff and costs between processing incoming invoices and outgoing checks. Finally, elapsed processing time might be controllable within the law department, but rarely is it controllable within the corporate accounts payable domain.

This quixotic quintet of metrics reflects more the availability of putative figures than the usefulness to a law department of their pursuit.