The Role of Billing Timekeeper

Stan Graham, CPA, Juris Senior Consultant, LexisNexis:

What does it mean to become a Billing Timekeeper?  What is a Billing Timekeeper?  How do I or did I become a Billing Timekeeper?

While not all law firms use the name Billing Timekeeper, it is a name that Juris and most Juris users use to describe the attorney that is responsible for a Matter and responsible for reviewing the client’s Bill or Invoice.  Some firms call them Responsible Timekeepers.

But often, additional responsibility comes with being a Billing Timekeeper that attorneys need to be aware of that isn’t always readily apparent or for which little or no training or guidance is provided by others at the firm.  The most common responsibilities often include:

  • Managing the relationship with the Client.
  • Directing the work of others that might also be working on the Matter.
  • Providing proper guidance on search terms to use for Conflict Checks.
  • Obtaining all possible pieces of information needed for an effective Conflict Check.
  • Making sure that the client is billed in accordance with the Engagement Letter and consistent with any client billing guidelines.
  • Including a copy of the Engagement Letter with the Client Intake Form, or have a repository where Billing and back-room staff can access the Engagement Letter.
  • Monthly review of WIP and A/R for the Matter to ensure everything is getting billed in a timely manner and collected.
  • Monthly review of any Trust or Prepaid amounts on account for the client and provide direction to the Billing Staff as to what to do with those amounts each month.
  • Perform collection efforts from slow-paying or non-paying clients.
  • Provide guidance on writing off WIP and Uncollectible Amounts that have already been billed.
  • Notifying Billing and Back Office Staff when a Matter is closed and needs to have its status changed to “Closed”.

Regular attention to each of these responsibilities provides that basis for good client management, good accounting records, and accurate reporting that can be used to manage the firm.  Many attorneys don’t think in terms of “running a business” as part of their role as an attorney at a firm.  But as one progresses to the Billing or Responsible Timekeeper level as part of the natural evolution of their career, they become exactly that . . . they are participating in running a business.  And having a checklist of responsibilities can be a welcome tool to make it as painless and efficient as possible and lead to the long-term success of you and your firm.