Law Firm Best Billing Practices to Help You Get Paid On Time


How do you measure law firm success? For many attorneys, it’s by the number of successful cases the firm handles. That’s certainly one metric. After all, an attorney who can’t win for their clients won’t get a lot of repeat business or recommendations and eventually, the practice will fail. 

However, law firms that struggle with billing are equally unsuccessful, even if they win in the courtroom. That’s because, without a steady flow of cash into the practice, it’s impossible to pay staff or those mounting bills. Eventually, the practice will be forced to close simply because of a lack of liquidity. 

There’s a solution to that challenge: law firm best billing practices. It is possible to run a successful practice that achieves positive outcomes for clients and keep cash flowing into the business side of the practice. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the most critical billing practices to put in place, so you get paid on time, every time.

Create a written office billing policy

It’s tempting to just wing it when it comes to client billing, but that leaves too much to chance. Instead, create an office billing policy that applies to all clients (there will likely be some exceptions). Your policy should set out important elements that ensure clients pay what they owe on time, every time, including the following:

  • When will their bill arrive?
  • How will the bill be sent?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • What’s the client payment timeline (due, past due, delinquent)?
  • What are the consequences if the client is late or fails to pay completely?

Create a dispute process

No matter how knowledgeable, educated, or client-focused you might be, you’ll eventually encounter a billing dispute. Maybe a client doesn’t want to pay for discovery. Perhaps they have a problem paying for junior staff members working on their case. Whatever the situation, you must have a strategy in place to deal with it effectively. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with bills sitting unpaid for months, or clients refusing to pay you at all. Your process should account for a few important factors, including:

  • Send timely reminders because the longer you wait, the less likely it is that your client will pay.
  • Create a reminder template that can be customized to each client with a minimum of effort.
  • Keep the tone of reminder communications calm and friendly.
  • Know who will review disputes if a client balks at paying. 

Have a collections strategy

What will you do if a client doesn’t pay and their account goes into collections? How will you collect on the bill? Will you work with a legal collections agency? By having a collections strategy in place, you lose less time when the situation arises. 

However, remember that collections should be your last resort. Many times, clients want to pay their bills but may need a little flexibility. Clarity in payment terms in the beginning and the ability to set up payment plans can go a long way toward avoiding collections entirely.

Ensure that team members track their time accurately

A critical part of getting your clients to pay on time is accurate billing. Your team members and their time recording habits are central to that. Make sure that your team tracks their time accurately and that they do it per task. You lose around 10% of your team’s time if they record it once per day, but the loss is significantly greater the longer they wait to record it. 

Make it easy to pay the bill

Sometimes, clients might be slow to pay because your process is complicated, or you don’t accept their form of payment. Making these things clear at the outset can help, but offering flexible options is even better. For instance, giving clients the option to pay their bills over the phone with a credit card or even PayPal can make a difference. 

Of course, you’ll want to ensure that your team members aren’t tied up accepting payments, so make sure you’re working with a company that can help you get paid faster and that integrates with your payment software. 

Don’t offer discounts or write-off time

Law firms struggling with cash flow may feel desperate to get cash however they can. That might lead you to offer discounts to clients or to write off your time. Don’t do this. 

First, it can damage your law firm’s brand. Once you start offering discounts, word travels quickly. Potential clients begin to expect that you’ll offer them a discount because you did it for their family member, friend, or neighbor. It also makes yours look like a “discount practice”, which is never a good thing if you want to get paid what you’re worth. Finally, writing off your time is usually a bad idea because it tells clients that you don’t value your own efforts.

A legal answering service can help you get paid on time

With the right strategy, you can ensure that your law firm gets paid on time. However, don’t neglect the fact that if your team members are tied up with answering the phones and taking payments, they can’t focus on their primary tasks. That can slow down your processes and reduce your ability to move cases forward, which will then affect your ability to earn. 

A legal answering service could be the key to balancing billing with casework. At, our virtual receptionists can answer questions, handle lead intake and vetting, book appointments, and even accept payments and consultation deposits. That leaves your team members free to focus on billable time and client services. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to

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Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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