a Handle on Receivables
by MBA and MBA
When the case is completed, attorneys bill their client the final
amount and, oftentimes, expect the fee to be immediately remitted. However,
the average law firm client takes an unbelievable 120 days to pay an invoice!
In many instances, attorneys dont track their past due
invoices, usually segmented by over 30, 60, 90 and 120+ days. Moreover,
many dont have collection procedures in place to ensure that past due amounts
dont roll over to the 60-day column.
Here are a few tips to help manage your accounts receivable:
1. Get a retainer fee from the client. If clients balk at retainers, theres a good chance that they
wont pay on time or maybe ever at all. Its better to
know up front if a client is leery about the attorneys fees.
2. Time is money and so timesheets should
be completed on a daily basis. Research indicates that time
collection on a weekly basis loses 15 percent of the time.
3. Invoices should be sent around the 20th
of the month to ensure client payment around the first.
4. Make sure that the invoice has a due
date. You can accelerate collections by about 50 percent with a
due date. Many law firm invoices have a statement date, but no
5. Attorneys shouldnt dun clients. Physicians dont taint their relationship with patients by
collecting fees and neither should attorneys. Most attorneys
dont like to collect fees and this task should be put in the hands of professionals.
6. Monitor your aging to identify problem
accounts before they become financial nightmares.
To determine the success of collections, use this formula each
month. Take the total outstanding accounts receivable divided by
total billing for current month and multiply by 30. This amount
is the average time in days that a client takes to pay an invoice.
The goal for this amount should be 45 days or less.
By monitoring this amount and instituting better invoicing and collection policies
and procedures, you ensure that your accounts receivable will be healthy.