Best Practices for Creating Billing Guidelines

Outside counsel billing guidelines (legal billing guidelines) offer an excellent way for your legal department to detail and outline its expectations of your vendors and outsourced law firms.

Often, however, despite your taking the time to craft billing guidelines carefully, they likely won’t be adhered to or followed correctly.

That can result in subpar work generated by your law firms. In addition, it will waste your internal team’s time and resources as it combs through invoices to find and rectify billing issues.

If you have legal billing guidelines already, now is the perfect time to evaluate them for areas of improvement. If you don’t have guidelines, now is a good time to implement them and to consider an enterprise legal management (ELM) system and how your business can continue to grow and prosper with one in place.

These tips and guidelines can help enhance your company’s guidelines and promote collaboration between your legal department and its firms and vendors.

Creating and evaluating your guidelines

Your legal department demands quality work from your law firms and vendors. Here’s how you can improve that line of communication.

Improve how you do businessClearly define your expectations

Provide an outline of what you expect from the project. If you’re evaluating by measurements, pass those along. Your outline should be detailed enough that there’s no ambiguity, but flexible enough to work with unforeseen circumstances that may arise.

Improve how you do business

Provide definitions & examples

Law firms work with different clients, all with their own taxonomy for defining billing guidelines. Provide detailed definitions of what you expect, and give an example of the correct format.

Improve how you do business

Pull out important points

If you have an important list, don’t bury it in a block of text. Put your most important billing guidelines on bulleted lists. Those boldfaced and emphasized points should ensure that can’t-miss information isn’t glazed over.

Best practices for creating guidelines

When creating your legal billing guidelines, it’s important that you have a strategic plan in place. Here are some tips for creating quality guidelines:

  • Set clear expectations.
  • Build a template foundation that has all of the information your clients need.
  • Have an e-billing solution.
  • Align with your accounting & finance departments.
  • Number your invoices and save them in your ELM management system.

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How ELM software can help

A legal/spend management solution can start you off on the right foot.  It’ll help ensure that you get your management system up and running quickly, all while using an agile approach to consistently meet and exceed your needs.

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