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Deciding It's Time for e-Billing

Raising the Bar

We understand why General Counsels at some companies put off buying a legal eBilling application as long as they possibly can. Software from legacy vendors can be clunky and hard to setup. At SimpleLegal, we're raising the bar on what should be expected from an eBilling and Legal Spend Management software.

Here is our take on why you might benefit from Legal Spend Management software.

Deciding It's Time For eBilling

If your Invoices are sent to several different people and places (Accounts Payable, Finance, HR, different members of the Legal team)... If answering the question, "What's the status of my invoice?" takes way more time than it should... If Budget and Headcount conversations are more difficult because you don't have easy access to reports and data showing Expense by Matter or Expense by Matter Type... If tracking down law firms for Accrual Estimates is a time-consuming process...

...it's time for an eBilling solution.

Why In-House Legal Teams are Adopting E-Billing and Legal Spend Management Software

E-Billing has become so popular because there are tangible results. Teams with a Legal Spend Management solution are better budgeted, more organized, and have a much better understanding of their Legal Spend. The General Counsel at one of our customers was told that he had the best system of any department in the entire company for tracking his expenses.

1) Saving Time & Money: Companies can save considerably on outside legal spending when they have easy access to intuitive data. One SimpleLegal customer was able to analyze billing information across multiple firms doing similar work. By making a few changes, they were able to save over $100,000 on their outside legal spend.

Many companies can add to these savings with negotiated QuickPay discounts from their firms (and then actually hit those QuickPay payment deadlines thanks to their streamlined process). Firms offer as much as a 10% discount for paying in a timely manner.

Modern applications save in-house counsel hours by automating the cumbersome process of invoice approval routing, accruals, and manually updating Excel sheets. Customer also benefit by reducing time spent dealing with invoices by 21% according to Blue Hill Research.

2) Low Risk Investment: In the past, legacy eBilling vendors would charge the law firms a toll to submit invoices to their clients. Today, very few vendors charge the law firms meaning companies can implement eBilling solutions without straining the relationship with their firms. Most solutions run below 1% of total legal spend. While some legacy vendors still have add-on charges, many vendors now charge a single monthly subscription fee making budgeting and planning easier.

3) Budget and Headcount Planning: As good data becomes more critical, corporate counsel will rely on metrics to measure performance of outside counsel against budgets and to formulate alternative fee structures. With reliable data from a Spend Management Solution, budget and headcount discussions can be a conversation built on a foundation of objective information. Planning future headcount and budget needs without data is a debate without facts. At a certain size of legal team, having an eBilling solution for Legal is as important as having CRM for Sales.

4) Reports: Having access to data in just a few clicks instead of spending weeks pulling together PDF and paper files to 10-key into Excel is one of the major benefits of having an e Billing management solution. The law firms have the data. They know which timekeepers worked on which matters for how many hours at what rate. Modern eBilling solutions can provide that data to the client without any extra effort for the firms. With reports, General Counsels have easy access to data to explain their budget and plan for future headcount needs. 

5) Simplicity: Modern eBilling legal systems have very little maintenance or down time. On-premise software often required consultants and new hardware purchases with each version upgrade. Cloud-based software (multi-tenant, single-tenant, or private cloud) can be upgraded with zero downtime, zero consultants, and no new hardware to acquire.

Painful software implementations that took months have given way to cloud-based solutions with far shorter implementation timeframes. Small legal teams can be up and running in less than a day. One of our customers with Legal and Finance teams distributed across three continents described their implementation process as “Zero to Sixty in under 30 days.”

6) Security: Many companies can benefit from the economics available through multi-tenant, cloud-based software. Third-party security tests (pen-tests) can confirm the safety and privacy of your data. Some companies will have specific security and data retention requirements that require a single-tenant solution. Others, for regulatory or policy reasons, will require entirely separate hardware which can be made available in a private cloud. Modern eBilling providers can accommodate each of these requirements.

7) Law Firms & E-Billing: Electronic billing has become commonplace in the legal profession—first in the U.S. and now internationally. Law firms use an internationally recognized standard, Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standards (LEDES), to submit invoices directly from their billing software. LEDES is a simple file format with specifications that support hourly billing, flat fee billing, expenses, multiple currencies, and tax.

Modern eBilling solutions require only minimal setup for law firms and make it easy for them to submit invoices without requiring any training. Often the only change for the law firm is to select a different invoice type in their billing software.

Bills not in LEDES format (usually PDF invoices) from smaller firms can also processed by many systems.

Law firms generally have good relationships with leading edge eBilling companies that have intuitive interfaces and responsive customer support. Legal Spend Management applications also make it easier for law firms to get invoice status updates without having to call the customer directly. 

In Conclusion:

Modern eBilling software will give you the ability to organize, centralize, and contextualize legal spend. The ability to get reports by Lead Attorney, Law Firm, Matter, Phase & Task Code, and even by individual Timekeeper means your department has the data required to make informed budget and headcount decisions. Budget and Headcount conversations can be far more productive with objective data.

If you think your company might be ready for Legal Spend Management, get in touch for a demo with your own data.