Collection Advice for Lawyers: Get Your Bills Out on Time

Here we are, at the end of the year, and I’m worried about getting all my collection work done for my clients…as well as my collection work on my legal invoices. Yep, it’s the year end cash rush. Trees are being shaken. Happy Holiday emails have invoice reminders at the end. And, yes, unbilled time is being discovered and rushed out the door.

I’ve talked about the best practices for legal invoices to get lawyer bills paid.

This morning, I saw a tweet by @rocketmatter titled  Legal Billing Rule # 1: The Longer You Wait The Less You’ll Get Paid. 

This is great advice. The longer you sit on a bill, particularly on a complex matter, the less likely it is that the invoice will be paid in full.

If you don’t invoice time as you go, you run the risk of shocking the client when you send them 2-3 months of billable time. It is not good to shock a client with your bill. Clients are far more likely to pay bills as the case progresses, in manageable amounts.

Plus, if a client is going to object to the cost to litigate a complex matter, wouldn’t you rather they see the bills for work after one month of litigation? Even the most eagerly litigious client gets back to reality in the face of a zealous lawyer’s bill. Give them this information early, rather than after you’re neck-deep in depositions, Motions, and unbilled expenses. Yikes.

Lawyers aren’t cheap, and the practice of law is not the type of work that lawyers are willing to do for free. If you want to get your bills paid on a timely basis, get them to your client on a timely basis. If you sit on the bills for months and put a low priority on the invoices, then your client will put a similarly low priority on paying them.