Sound familiar? Your favorite outside counsel firm includes non-billable expenses or duplicate line items on its invoice, or their newest associate bills for several hours getting up to speed on the case the firm has been working on for months. It’s up to you to handle the call from their managing attorney, asking why their invoice was short-paid. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. The last thing you need is a strain on this relationship right as the case is reaching its most important phase.
Using e-Billing software coupled with strong outside counsel guidelines can prevent billing errors early (before any adjustments and/or payment) and can mitigate the risks of having to spend time dealing with money disputes later.
Enforcing compliance with billing guidelines
If you do not already have billing guidelines in place, it can be nearly impossible to enforce compliance by your outside counsel.
e-Billing systems, such as Acuity ELM’s e-Billing software, help to create easily identifiable billing guidelines, as well as monitor for compliance infractions. If your system is set up correctly, it should make human reviewers’ jobs easier and flag discrepancies for later evaluation. In many cases, an e-Billing system can auto-approve invoices, skipping the dead-time spent manually reviewing invoices.
However, it seems that few legal teams are happy with their current system’s results, and are especially unsatisfied with current guidelines and compliance. An unwillingness to strain their relationships with their firms makes enforcing billing guidelines for in-house corporate teams harder – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Catch discrepancies early
When you catch billing guideline discrepancies early, it can help to strengthen your company’s relationship with your partners, as well as improve your own internal workflow.
Enforcing billing guidelines helps to increase inside efficiency, optimize transparency, and improve outside relations. By requiring automated standardization of your billing data, your team can compare different invoices on a one-to-one comparison basis. Automated e-Billing software can flag discrepancies during the review process to enforce compliance and prevent costly mistakes.
A system in which your outside team can submit their invoices and your inside team and audit, analyze, and organize those invoices will help you to find hidden patterns, ongoing or intermittent violations, and even help with real-time compliance.
Standardization through automation also reduces disagreements over billing. Real-time software catches errors as they happen, bringing the problems to the attention of both legal teams and the enterprise. The automation of this process saves time and money that would otherwise be spent on having a reviewer find these errors manually. It also provides advanced notice to your partners, allowing them to correct errors before ever sending matters or bills over to your team.
Using e-Billing software to enforce billing guidelines can help to improve in-house and outside counsel relationships because:
- Your firms know the exact reason an adjustment by your legal team is being made.
- The ability to tag or make notes gives your firms an opportunity to adjust their invoices in order to fall into compliance.
- You have access to analytics and spend management tools, which uncover costs that are increasing legal spend.
- Billing and business intelligence helps all parties identify areas of improvement.
Software is an excellent way of improving your guidelines in a live document or system that can update as fast as your team does. With line item reviews or full-scale audits, technology makes the process of adjusting and enforcing compliance issues faster and more efficient.
Mitigate your risk
Acuity ELM is a leader in enterprise legal management solutions. Whether you’re looking for e-Billing software solutions, ways to better manage your legal spend, matter management, or advanced analytics, Acuity has your answer.