Rule 1 . Keep different types of fee agreements (hourly billing, flat billing, contingency billing, etc.) Ready at any time. Many local and state Bar Associations provide sample fee agreements. Start with the template and make the necessary changes according to your needs and legal requirements. You must specify all types of expenses (travel, fax, telephone …) you will charge your customers. If your jurisdiction requires, disclose whether or not you carry malpractice insurance. States have characteristics tasks you must perform and specifically exclude projects that you will not be handling (eg, any appeals). Review the rules of jurisdiction from time to time and adjust the fee agreement template accordingly.
Rule 2 . The fee agreement should include a member, paralegal and secretary of the price, even if you do not have any staff. See “assignments” below.
Rule 3 . It is advisable to include hourly external advice (preferably a specialist in the subject matter) that you may need to dominate every time to fill in for you or to perform specific and specialized tasks.
Rule 4 . Mention in the fee agreement if you want to be in communication with the client electronically, and make them aware that e-mail communication is not guaranteed communication process. Verify if the client is OK to receive bills by email.
Rule 5 . Remember, just because your fee agreement says that the retainer is not refundable may not make the retainer irreversible. If the retainer is held in client trust account and intended to be used for future services, a retainer is not likely to be recoverable (regardless of what your fee agreement states). Understand the difference between true headbands and advance fee retainers. If you are looking to prove retainer, make sure that the client understands this before you keep.
Rule 6 . If the fee agreement involves a monthly basis (for example) the collection, make sure it’s gone.
Rule 7 . Keep lowest billable unit time low. In some countries, any more than “minimum 15 minutes” is frowned upon.
Rule 8 . Track time carefully. Also keep a record of the time you will not bill your customer. It is desirable to bill all the time to discuss and then offer discounts (eg offer discounts to encourage prompt payment). This will also help you if the fee dispute arises and goes to arbitration / litigation.
Rule 9 . Keep a good record of time on issues and record time as soon as possible.
Rule 10 . Keep a detailed account of the project you phonograms billable and non billable hours. These detailed accounts help you with the management of the case and also help you to remember the events later.
Rule 11 . Avoid billing time for interoffice discussions. Customers hate this. Such discussions are considered preparatory steps (just like going to and from home to office) for the delivery of legal services and should not be charged to customers.
Rule 12 . Track time on fine granularity projects so that you can invoice them separately. This will save you a fee if a dispute arises and goes to arbitration / litigation.
Rule 13 . Each collection points, the invoice must be short but clearly should identify tasks performed (eg, “Phone conf with Opp advice Re: .. settlement”). Do not be vague (eg “Legal”).
Rule 14 . Do not use abbreviations in the collection line that customers would not know. If necessary, add a note at the end of the account to describe abbreviations used account.
Rule 15 . Avoid billing your clients to investigate legal content and theories lawyer skills should already know.
Rule 16 . Avoid collection of more than a reasonable time for the project. For example, if another lawyer (similar expertise and experience as you and charge the same hourly rate as you) would perform tasks (such as writing a typical short) in 5 hours, you should not bill for 10 hours for the same task (even if you delete actually 10 hours), unless you can explain why. If you do, the fact finder (the fee arbitration / litigation) can get the impression that you are not as skilled as you represented to the client (hence should not be paid the hourly fees charged to customers).
Rule 17 . Not of a bill to revise and review the documents prepared by yourself (or affiliates).
Rule 18 . Remember, the client has hired you to existing legal skills in a particular area. Do not bill of training and skills development especially in the area your regular job.
Rule 19 . Make sure that the accounts more than once. Check bills carefully before sending them out to customers to cover such errors.
Rule 20 . Not a bill or two customers for the project. Switch billable hours among many customers, if the project benefits them all. For example, if you research the legal stuff that you will use in two different cases, replace billable hours between the two cases.
Rule 21 . Do not blow billable hours (this is very unethical in any jurisdiction), even if reasonable attorney would have performed the same task at the same time you’re bill. For example, if you had already written a similar brief some other cases in the past and use the same template (with minor changes and adjustments), bill time you spent actually make changes and corrections.
Rule 22 . Distributed projects. Do not try to make the project a non-lawyer staff or junior lawyer can do. Customers would hate to see $ 300 / hour charges for making a copy, go to court to file motion or making / sending form letters. If you do not have the staff and do everything myself, not a bill Attorneys price for such a project. Rule of thumb is that if the project requires no legal skills, you should not be billing this project hourly rate.
Rule 23 . If the customer is a corporate customer, ask your customers contact your billing practices and make billing them accordingly. Some companies have accounts in Lede format. If so, do not send them not PDF or paper bills.
Rule 24 . Be frugal when spending money on behalf of clients. Try to use the cheapest service unless there is good reason.
Principle 25 . Be fair, reasonable and use common sense.