By Virginia Griffith.
HGTV’s “No Demo Reno” is about how major home improvements are possible without massive demolition. Since I’m in the process of building a new home, with some background in design and remodeling, I greatly appreciate the theme of the show. You don’t need hard, costly, time-consuming changes to get the desired results: better functionality, more efficiency, and an updated look.
The same is true with managing legal billing and reducing costs on outside counsel. While there are plenty of solutions on the marketplace, most consist of overhauling your team’s day-to-day operations with a costly, all-encompassing suite of new software.
But the truth is not every legal department needs to “demolish” their existing processes and bring on an e-billing software platform to get the desired results: cost savings, billing consistency, and increased efficiency.
According to The 2021 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer, many legal departments don’t have the internal resources (both in terms of budget and technical expertise) nor the desire to bring on major new technology overhauls. And even if they did, they would have a hard time selling it internally, running up against a culture that is understandably resistant to sudden change.
When drastic change is difficult, technology resources are sparse, and the budget to implement big technology is lacking, I suggest not tearing down the walls and putting up new infrastructure, but instead bringing in experts who can adapt to your organization and work within your process, rather than the other way around.
Saving Time and Money
Saving time and money is always a top priority, and a qualified, budget-neutral bill review service can do both. The typical savings average between 8 and 15% of legal spend and take effect within the first month. Implementing an e-billing platform, on the other hand, can involve a six-figure expense upfront, with added annual fees and costs for add-on services, meaning it can take years for any resulting savings to yield a net benefit.
Implementing big software platforms can take months and significant resources from your in-house team, including the frustration of training on a new system. Dedicated legal invoice reviewers can integrate within your organization’s environment within weeks, with no
up-front costs and immediate savings.
Hard dollar savings can be recognized within the first bill review cycle. Efficiencies are created that may not be realized with software solutions. In-house attorneys and their staff don’t have the time to clear flags or review invoices line-by-line and lack the daily exposure to bill review that full-time trained invoices reviewers can provide.
Realized savings are more significant with a legal bill review service versus billing software or in-house review. Professional reviewers achieve reasonable savings that aren’t driven by arbitrary flags and AI but instead catch the nuances of the legal matters and narratives.
When legal departments aren’t interested in the drastic overhaul that comes with a new e-billing system, having an outside bill review service is just easier. The best bill review consultant can work within your existing framework, help create efficiencies in your workflow, and standardize your process.
Implementing big software platforms requires a change in workflow and process, not to mention dedicated personnel within your legal department to manage the new system. Not only is there a lot of time and effort required for system implementation, but continued management and oversight are needed -- and yet realized savings may be lower than expected.
Many legal teams do not take the extra step of conferring with their outside counsel counterparts to pursue the savings uncovered by billing guidelines and AI. The best bill review services review for guideline violations and billing mistakes and also make subjective determinations based on their analysts’ years of experience as practicing attorneys. Those bill review consultants act as an extension of a legal operations team and deal directly with the law firm’s billing department to achieve actual, realized savings.
Law Firms and Bill Review Services
Working directly with a dedicated invoice review team, law firms can submit their bills to the reviewers in various formats, which is simple and saves time. Law firms typically get paid faster when their clients have designated reviewers and a streamlined process because there are no backlogs or bottlenecks within the legal department as bills and flags wait to be addressed. Law firms don’t have to accept a flat reduction based on an automated flag but can instead speak with the auditor to arrive at an acceptable resolution. Law firms are more prone to dismiss e-billing system findings than they are to dismiss the real-life experience of a professional bill review attorney.
AI Can’t Replace Experienced Attorneys
AI has made incredible progress in the legal industry. Yet attorneys still write memos, perform depositions, and show up for trial. Even the best AI-driven e-billing platforms still require someone to create the billing guidelines, adapt and update guidelines as matters and firms change, and clear the flags. AI cannot communicate with outside counsel to discuss the findings of a bill review and come to a mutually beneficial resolution on a questionable entry. Attorney analysts review with context that runs broader than guidelines, considering circumstances and history that AI won’t.
Do you need a massive renovation that requires demolition and disruption for your team that is already hesitant to change and lacks the resources for new technology implementation? You may simply need an expert to oversee the bill review process, creating efficiencies and standardizing procedures while saving you time and money.
About the Author
Virginia is an experienced legal leader with a passion for business development and legal operations. Virginia spent 11 years with Thomson Reuters in a variety of roles primarily focusing on the research and knowledge management needs of in-house counsel. Virginia also spent time in the big four working closely with corporate legal departments in support of their legal operations and regulatory programs. As the Vice President of Business Development, Virginia assists corporate legal departments manage their outside counsel spend.