Turn Over a New Leaf with Client Guideline Compliance


Turn Over a New Leaf with Client Guideline Compliance

A colleague recently told me he wished he worked in a “pandemic-proof business” like a law firm. Interesting perception. While it is true that for many law firms, work remained steady when COVID-19 hit, but for some, getting paid for that work became more difficult. A variety of factors presented roadblocks, such as pandemic discount requests, extending payment terms from 30 days to 120 days, and of course, a higher scrutiny on client billing guidelines – as if those weren’t difficult enough to comply with already.

Aderant recently hosted two client forums and uncovered both old and new pain points law firms are dealing with in regard to client billing guidelines.  Based on the findings during these recent forums, more than 85% of firms have centralized billing departments who are reporting that Missing Required Matter Data Setup either on the vendor side or within the law firm’s financial system is the primary challenge impacting the successful initial submission of invoices. Those same groups of law firms reported that non-compliant time entries (block billing, narrative infractions, or invalid task codes, to name a few) continue to be the top issue contributing to payment reductions.

It’s certainly true that many client billing guidelines can be agonizingly complex, ambiguous, and vague, but for the majority of firms the simple fact is that every client has guidelines, and none of them are the same. The sheer volume and variety are drowning firms. But there is a life preserver.

Billing guideline compliance is prevalent throughout the WIP-to-cash cycle, whether that’s upstream at the point of time entry, midstream during month-end prebill review, or downstream in the eBilling process. With three clear pain points, the best approach is to pick one piece to start with, deploy the life preserver (tactics which can range from simple process improvements to implementing a tech solution) to achieve compliance, and then move on to the other parts of the cycle.

One of our clients started with eBilling. By incorporating a legal eBilling solution, they were able to validate invoice and line-item data prior to submission, therefore creating compliant invoices and reducing rejections and delays. But where the firm found additional value was in the deduction data provided by their solution’s best-in-class analytics. They were able to identify certain clients, lawyers or practice groups that had a higher frequency of non-compliant entries – and they had the data they needed to back up their assertion and improve the process.

By cleaning up the downstream aspect of billing compliance, they were able to focus attention on the upstream element of compliant time entry. With the legal eBilling analytics built into their system, they were able to improve timekeeper education and implement critical process improvements to achieve more compliant time entry. Layering in a compliance tool, the firm was able to alert timekeepers of non-compliant time entries in real-time, so it was corrected immediately instead of days or weeks later.

The positive domino effect of better compliance upstream at the point of time entry has made month-end prebill review and downstream eBilling so much easier and less time-consuming. The result: increased revenue realization – during the pandemic.

With each new challenge, the recession of 2009, the pandemic of 2020, and whatever the future holds, client billing guidelines continue to grow, expand, and place increasing pressures on law firms to comply. Utilizing a suite of connected legal billing compliance solutions provides the best way to overcome the ever-changing client requirements.

If you are interested in compliance with client guidelines upstream, at the point of time entry, look out for that in an upcoming blog post in the next few weeks.

For more information on a legal eBilling solution with best-in-class analytics and legal compliance technology that notifies lawyers of errors instantly, check out BillBlast and OCG Live at www.www.aderant.com.