Collection Advice for Lawyers: Use Detailed Invoices as a Way to Justify your Fees and Get Paid

I received a collection notice in the mail last week, from a Georgia law firm that domesticated a judgment for one of my Tennessee bank clients. I had subconsciously sat on their invoice for a month, mainly because I hated their invoice and didn’t want to forward it to my client.

It wasn’t for a lot of money, but I hated it because it didn’t tell a compelling story showing the value my client received.

The invoice didn’t have the hourly rate of the person providing services. The time spent for each task wasn’t itemized. The invoice provided only minimal details about the work provided. In short, it didn’t prove that value was given, and it didn’t tell a story.

If a lawyer is ever going to advocate, the time is when he’s asking to be paid. When I send out a bill, I always keep in mind:

  • Always provide (too much) detailed information about the work you do for a client on a bill.  Leave the client no question that they are getting lots of great legal work.
  • Include all the “technical” information on the invoice, showing how much time is spent on each task, who performed it, and how much was charged for the task.
  • Most important, craft your time entries in a matter that tells a story, which will show the client the value of your time.

Compare:  the below one (1.0) hour billing entries:

                       “Legal Research on jurisdiction”

                       “Legal Research in Tennessee statutes and cases on issues related to Delaware corporation doing business in Tennessee and whether internet website justifies lawsuit filed in Tennessee”

                        Which one is more likely to be paid?

Author: David

I am a creditors rights and commercial litigation attorney in Nashville, Tennessee.

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