What does a 200-page legal bill look like?

Nathan Wenzel | February 8, 2016 | Articles

At SimpleLegal, we believe data can change the world. We also believe, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. That’s why I get excited when we can extract simple from complex for new customers. We recently helped a new customer turn a 200-page PDF mess, into an easy-to-understand dashboard.

Ever wonder what 200 pages worth of legal bills looks like? It looks like this:

They asked for a little extra guidance understanding their spend, so I spent some time with them. A few things became apparent right away.

The Good News

Most of the legal spend was related to one-time issues. That was the first piece of good news I was able to pass on to them. Organizing your legal spend by matter makes it easier to forecast future legal spend.

Second, their law firm doesn’t appear to be overstaffing matters. They typically assign one partner, one associate, and one paralegal to their matters. Exactly the type of efficiency you expect from your firm. No multi-timekeeper review of documents. No room full of associates on conference calls. No first-year associates learning on the customer’s dime.

Third, it was clear that the hourly rates their law firm charged for immigration and IP work were substantially lower than the hourly rates for fundraising work. More evidence that their law firm is allocating the right resources to the right work at the right price.

The Not So Great News

Buried in those 200 pages were charges from a law student. It wasn’t much. But charging over $200/hr for someone less than halfway through law school is one of those self-inflicted image hits that’s tough to stomach. When you get your bill, take a look at the timekeepers listed. The SimpleLegal dashboard shows hours, rates, and total charges by person. We link to their LinkedIn profile to give you an easy way to lookup anyone you don’t recognize.

Similarly hidden was the fact that for their fundraising matter, their investors drove a significant percentage of the cost. That money has already been spent, but seeing that cost means they can talk to their firm about how to handle that issue next time around. As one law firm partner told me, “If I’m talking, I’m billing.” Whether he’s talking to you or your investors, you’re the one paying the bill. Talk to your partner about the best way to limit the cost of investors that have your law firm on speed dial.

Your Own Legal Spend Dashboard

If you’d like to know what it takes to get these kinds of insights from your legal bills, request a demo of our legal operations management platform and see how legal tech can help you streamline your billing while brining additional operational rigor to your processes.