How Law Firms Are Getting Paid in 2019

One of the biggest challenges faced by small law firms in 2019 is getting paid promptly. When clients put off paying a legal bill, or even ignore it completely, law firm finances and cash flow can be affected significantly. Alternatively, when legal bills are paid quickly, law firms run more smoothly and efficiently. That’s why it’s so important for small firms lawyers to make it as easy as possible for clients to pay for legal invoices.

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That’s where law practice management software with built in time-tracking, legal billing, accounting, and online payment processing features comes in. These tools make it easier than ever for lawyers to enter their billable time, create and send out invoices, and collect credit card payments – all with just the click of a button!

Because legal billing features built into software streamline and simplify the law firm billing process, it’s no surprise that the use of legal billing tools is on the rise. But don’t take my word for it. The results of the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report fully support this conclusion.

According to the Report, 81% of the lawyers surveyed reported that time and billing software designed to streamline the time-tracking and invoice-creation process was made available by their firm. Large and mid-sized firms led the way, with 95% of the lawyers from firms of 100 or more attorneys reporting that these tools were available, as did 95% of lawyers from firms with 10-49 lawyers. Next up were  firms of 2-9 attorneys at 85% (up from 83% in 2017, 85% in 2016, and 79% in 2015). Solo lawyers came in last at 58% (up from 55% in 2017, 64% in 2016, and 62% in 2015).

Not surprisingly, since larger law firms are the most likely to provide legal billing tools to their lawyers, those lawyers were the most likely to use them. So, 77% of lawyers from firms of 100 or more reported that they personally used the time and billing features that were available to them (up from 64% in 2017, 69% in 2016, and 78% in 2015). Next up were small firm lawyers of 2-9 attorneys at 67% (up from 66% in 2017, 68% in 2016, and 56% in 2015). 66% of lawyers from firms of 10-49 attorneys personally used time and billing software (compared to 68% in 2017, 79% in 2016, and 65% in 2015). And last were solos at 50% (compared to 48% in 2017, 58% in 2016, and 50% in 2015).  Overall, 64% of all lawyers surveyed chose to use time and billing tools (compared to 61% in 2017, 67% in 2016, and 60% in 2015).

According to the Report, electronic billing software that facilitates invoice creation and online payments is also on the rise. 72% of all lawyers surveyed reported that their firms now offer electronic billing tools (up from 70% in 2017, 68% in 2016, and 67% in 2015). Lawyers from firms with 100 or more attorneys were the most likely to have these tools available at 88%. Next were lawyers from firms of 10-49 lawyers at 81%, followed by small firm lawyers (2-9 lawyers) at 74%. Solo lawyers came in last at 55%.

The percentage of lawyers who personally use electronic billing software is also increasing, with 38% of all lawyers reporting that they use it (up from 32% in 2017, 36% in 2016, and 32% in 2015). Solo lawyers lead the way at 43%, since they are the most likely to perform legal billing tasks themselves due to lack of support staff. Lawyers from firms of 2-9 lawyers were next at 41%, followed by lawyers from firms of 100 or more attorneys at 35%, and lawyers from firms of 10-49 attorneys at 31%.

So that’s how other lawyers and law firms are making use of legal billing and payment processing tools. Is your law firm using legal practice management software that includes a robust set of legal billing features? If not, why not? The more streamlined your law firm’s billing process is (and the easier it is for clients to pay their legal bills), the more quickly your firm will get paid and reap the benefits of the hard work performed on behalf of your firm’s clients.

In 2019 legal clients expect more from their lawyers. If your firm doesn’t provide them with the type of service they expect, they’ll find another that will. Don’t let that happen. Instead, use the 21st century legal software tools that your clients expect. The end result will be legal bills paid promptly and happy clients. What more could you ask for?

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