Legaltech News published a fascinating piece on April 8 from contributor Nathan Cemenska, a piece that talked about the consequences of overbilling in the modern law practice. It touched on everything from minimum billable hours to some of the standard practices that lead to both intentional and unintentional overbilling. After reading the piece, we are even more confident that our law office management software can be part of an overall solution to billing problems.
NuLaw includes an ABA-compliant billing module that integrates time tracking, payment processing, and accounting for a more accurate and streamlined billing process. It’s just one of the reasons we believe NuLaw is among the best law office management software packages available. If your firm’s accounting and billing are not up to par, we invite you to learn more about NuLaw.
Minimum Billable Hour Requirements
Cemenska’s post begins with a quote from the Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Though we won’t repeat the quote here, Breyer’s point is that the average law firm requires attorneys to bill anywhere from 2,000 to 2,400 hours annually. Is that number realistic? Moreover, does it lead to overbilling?
An analysis from Yale University concluded that an attorney would have to work a minimum of 59 hours a week to create 2,200 billable hours annually. And by ‘work’, Yale means actually being at work producing something relevant to active cases. That doesn’t account for commute time, traveling to meet clients, and working on things that are not directly related to active cases.
Though studies have suggested attorneys do not intentionally overbill for the most part, Cemenska makes the case that the current system is ripe for unintentional overbilling. Attorneys prefer to round up their billable hours, for example. They might also bill for time that was only partially spent on the particular case to which it applies.
A More Accurate Accounting
Cemenska alerted readers to new technology tools that firms are beginning to employ in the billing department. He cited the rise of article intelligence built in to law office management software to help better track how attorneys are actually spending their time. He cited software that is capable of finding patterns in billing records that could identify both intentional and unintentional overbilling.
Here at NuLaw, we take no position one way or the other as to how attorneys bill their clients. We aren’t in the business of practicing law or billing customers for legal services. But we are in the business of developing modern, cloud-based solutions for better law practice management.
We believe that the most accurate way to bill customers is to produce accurate records from which to generate invoices. We also believe there’s no better way to do that in the modern era than with a cloud-based application that integrates every aspect of case management with billing and accounting.
Tracking Every Minute
Our law office management software is capable of tracking every minute attorneys put in to their cases. It is capable of taking that time, combining it with other fees and services, and generating accurate invoices that can be sent out automatically. And because the system is based in automation and artificial intelligence, it facilitates faster payments as well.
We can easily see how minimum billable hour requirements can lead to overbilling. In light of that, we would encourage our clients to take a serious look at their billing practices just to make sure. In the meantime, adopting a new legal case management application with a built-in ABA-compliant billing system is a logical first step in clearing up existing billing problems.