The Florida Bar

Clear Billing Policies Can Deter Disputes

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Classification:Billable Hours
Date Published:09/30/1991
Title:Clear Billing Policies Can Deter Disputes
Source:NLJ/Jonathan P. Bellis

More and more clients are joining the craze to audit legal billing. With high-fee matters requiring upfront investment on the law firm's part, the firm needs to define the client relationship carefully and to fine-tune back-office systems and procedures accordingly. Failure to iron out these details may lead to billing disputes in the future.
Many bill auditors have backgrounds as insurance claims examiners and approach their task with only one goal: finding abuses. Some auditors prefer to review bills for high-fee litigation---matters in which the audit fees are typically a fraction of the billing abuses uncovered.
Bellis explores the types of billing and auditing--proactive audits, novel billing practices and codifying billing arrangements. Also, in most billing disputes, each side takes the high ground so it is important to recognize the importance of effective communication.
Clients will give firms more direction in the future, in the areas of strategy, budget development, performance evaluation, and receiving status reports.
Effective communication of standards and procedures will help ensure that the recent rash of disputes is merely a passing and unhappy phase in the relationship of client and counsel. 10 pages


[Revised: 07-28-2006]