Summary: A new survey from LexisNexis has found that small law firms in the United States are uncomfortable with billing their clients and spend too much time on billing.
A new survey from LexisNexis Legal & Professional found that small law firms based in the United States struggle when it comes to past due client accounts, according to a press release.
Half of the law firms surveyed said that 39 percent of client accounts are past due and that even though this is caused by financial hardships, lawyers are uncomfortable taking part in financial discussions.
“The survey results reflect what we hear anecdotally quite often: Lawyers enjoy the practice of law and dislike the business of law,” said James Paterson, senior director of product management at LexisNexis. “Following up on collections or past due accounts is perhaps the least favorite law firm business activity, but it’s incredibly important to a healthy law practice.”
The survey also found that 73 percent of small firms surveyed experience past due client accounts at some point. Some 53 percent said that from 10 to 39 percent of the firms’ total client base is past due.
Financial problems are the main reason cited by 83 percent of small law firms when asked about why client accounts are past due. The survey also found that business processes, a lack of communication with the client and value appraisal all play a role in this.
Approximately 61 percent of small law firms said that they spend somewhere around eight hours per month on the billing process. Close to 58 percent of small law firms said that they spend too much time when it comes to billing clients.
“Most of the respondents to this survey were from law firms with just one or two attorneys – in essence small business entrepreneurs,” added Paterson. “This survey surfaced a collective discomfort with asking for money. Law firms need to realize there’s nothing embarrassing about asking to be paid for what they’ve earned. The data identifies a clear need to provide small law firms with tips, techniques and tools that facilitate this process.”
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