by Craig Austin, CEO Printsol
When I have discussions with friends and colleagues about legal fees the biggest issue seems to be around how costs such as print, copy, fax and telephone calls are added onto the bill. Accountability seems to be a point of contention for most people for the simple reason that the administration costs cannot accurately be quoted upfront. In some cases law firms will simply add these print, copy, fax and telephone costs as a percentage of the overall charge (i.e. 5-15% of the total invoice for administration fees).
Clients who understand the breakdown of costs being billed are far more likely to accept the additional legal charges. This is a win-win situation for both parties as the client is happy to pay for the add-on charges and the legal firm receives timeous settlement of the outstanding expenses. When a flat rate is charged or there is no transparency of how the percentage is made up, this could lead to discrepancies and delayed invoice payments. Potentially, the firm could lose a client over a relatively small cost issue.
Breaking down the document costs and telephone costs into ‘client and matter’, ‘date’, ‘time’ and the ability to make ‘notes’ on certain transactions is ideal to validate any additional costs presented to clients. As this is an administration function it would be preferable if this process is automated and feeds into the existing legal billing software so at the end of the month a single invoice can be generated and presented for payment.
Using a product such as Print Director allows for the automated collection of your telephone, print, copy and fax costs with full integration into most legal systems. The Print Director software is developed in South Africa and is already trusted and used by many leading legal firms.
A transparent legal bill matters in building the trust relationship with clients!