Statements for legal services are a critical part of law office operations, yet often insufficient attention is given to the appearance and formatting of legal billing. Bills are an important communication with clients that can impact the clients’ view of the law firm and its lawyers.
In my column Your Statement for Legal Services is Enclosed in the May/June issue of Law Practice Magazine, I cover many aspects of legal billing, from the greater likelihood of a third party audit of law firm bills to how much detail the bill should contain. I also discuss whether the ubiquity of electronic billing now means that the use of tools like color and hyperlinks in the statement should now be considered for law firm billing. There are many creative things that can be done with billing, although one wouldn’t want to go overboard as client billing is a serious matter. But if you are sending out ebilling with a black and white version of the law firm’s color logo, changing to the color version seems to be a quick and easy “upgrade.”
The late Harris Morgan and Jay Foonberg published the second edition of How To Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay in 2003. The primary takeaway from the book is that bills should be detailed and legible, reflecting both value to the client and effort on the part of the lawyer. That is still a great touchstone today and, a dozen years later, this book is still a classic with many valuable lessons for those who can locate a copy. I hope you enjoy my Practice Management Advice column.