3 Myths About Law Firm Billing: The In-House Edition
- Legal Operations
- 2 Mins
In Did You Mean to Buy That? Advice For Billing Non-Compliance, our team addressed three myths on outside counsel billing and shared practical advice on ways to confront reality and achieve better billing practices. For many corporations, inappropriate billing amounts to hundreds of thousands if not millions in excess spend annually. We know that legal billing takes time and energy away from our matters however, we need better management of these processes.
But what about lawyers on our in-house law department teams? How well are we holding up our end of the bargain? If we're being honest, similar myths apply.
3 Myths Among In-house Teams
- Myth #1 - [In-house lawyers] are always familiar with your outside counsel billing guidelines. Um, that’s not a fair assumption, especially when guidelines and long, boring, and often updated.
- Myth #2 - [In-house lawyers] vigilantly and consistently monitor how much time outside counsel spends completing tasks to ensure a high level of billing accuracy. Yes, there is a fair amount of teamwork and collaboration between outside counsel and in-house teams but in-house counsel are juggling many responsibilities and can understandably lose sight of how much effort is being put into each matter they manage.
- Myth #3 - [In-house lawyers] always scrupulously review law firm invoices before approving payment. Nope. Honestly, just like for outside counsel, there are trade-offs between time spent on bill review and time spent on matters and not surprisingly, quality legal work always wins – as it should. (That’s without mentioning the other responsibilities that in-house leaders take on - establishing rapport with business partners, knowing the business and managing their own teams.)
The point is that both our in-house and outside counsel shoulder much responsibility when it comes to quality work product and protecting and defending your organization. But when it comes to legal billing - How do we address this necessary evil and somehow alleviate the time burden?
As a former in-house Legal Ops leader, you might think I have a preference towards the Legal Operations team as the single-point solution. However, industry trends show that managed invoice review is another repeatable task where alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) can effectively take charge. Many ALSPs have the expertise coupled with technology enhanced processes that enable in-flight review, ongoing enforcement, and periodic analysis, giving your team control and context throughout the workflow. Using an ALSP as the first-pass reviewer saves your team time and also saves them the burden of being the enforcer among allies, while still having insight and final approver authority - as they should.
Epiq's Managed Invoice Review workflow looks like this with many clients:
If your legal department is looking to improve your outside counsel invoice review and approval process, or you just have questions about how to better empower your in-house attorneys, Epiq Spend Solutions can help.
Kendra Nowak is a Managing Director in Epiq’s Legal Transformation Solutions Team. Kendra partners with corporate in-house leaders to identify and solve common challenges faced by global legal departments related to people, process, technology, and data-insights.
The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.