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Friday, 7 June 2013

Tiered Rate Structures

I had a situation for a law firm who took up a matter which would proceed in stages/phases and the rate matrix for each phase and lawyer was different.  The firm entered into a billing arrangement where it would bill fees based on the phase the matter fell under. So, lawyers working on the first phase had to record time at particular rates. If the matter proceeded to phase 2,3, etc the rates changed accordingly.
Below is a write-up I did on how to accomplish this.
General Overview of Rates in PCLaw
·         Rate Categories Assigned: Rates assigned for a matter are predefined in the system at firm level or matter level. Rates can also fall in categories and the individual rates for each timekeeper may vary for each category as defined in the system. For example: If a matter has the “A” rate assigned, lawyer ABC who has an A rate of 1000.00 will bill at 1000.00 per hour; lawyer DEF who has an A rate of 750.00 will bill at 750.00 per hour, and so on. It is also possible to change the rates of the timekeepers for any category effective from user defined dates.
·         Monetary Rate Assigned: A matter can also have a fixed monetary rate assigned as opposed to the A, B, C, etc rate category. For example: If a matter has a charge out rate of 1400.00, any timekeeper who records time on the matter will bill at a rate of 1400.00 regardless of his/her rate under each rate category.
·         Task Based Billing: A matter can also be billed by Tasks (known as task based billing). This is where time is categorised by task with each task carrying their unique rates.
Whether a rate assigned to a matter is category (A, B, C, etc) based, task based or a monetary value defined, further rate exceptions are possible with a number of permutations including the ability to bill by stage/phase.
Time Recording for Matters to be billed in Stages/Phases
Whilst an array and flexibility of billing rates & styles is possible, how to assign rates based on stages or phases of the matter needs some thoughtful planning. Some matters progress in stages and the lawyer may agree with the client a tiered rate structure based on the lawyer working and stage the scope of work falls under. It is possible to bill time based on the stage /phase and the timekeeper working on the matter.
Prerequisites for achieving stage based billing on a matter
·         Use specially created Task Code (e.g. “ST” for Specials Tasks) instead of ”BW” (Billable Work) at matter manager level under Main tab as the Default Task Code. Use this Task Code as default for all matters that will be billed in Stages/Phases.
·         Define the Stages/Phases at firm level – Useful to have as many stages as possible e.g. Phase 1, Phase 2, etc at Task Code level (Options>Lists>Task Codes).
·         Use Rate exception at matter manger level under Billing tab to set up as many timekeepers as possible.
·         Users have to use appropriate Task Codes (Phase 1, Phase 2, etc) when docketing time to have that matter billed at the correct rate based on the phase for which time is being recorded.
·         If user does not define the task code at time entry level, the matter’s default rate will be used.
·         When new timekeepers join in, apart from setting their default category A, B, etc rates, all matters with rate exception should be updated. To aid in doing this, the list of client matters report layout can be designed, and printed specifically for this purpose. The report can be filtered under Advance Search to show only matters with particular Task Code – “ST” in this case.