Billing and Collection information plays a vital part in law firms' remuneration structure. This information is constantly needed to make objective/subjective assessments of lawyers or partners productivity.
There are numerous reports in PCLaw to get this information. However for information to be consistent and accurate the system must be configured and data entry rules set to properly reflect the company’s policies on fee credits and collections.
There are a number of areas in PCLaw that need to be configured properly.
To begin under System Settings>Billing tab the option “Allocate fee changes to Resp Lawyer” determines if any Bill Up/Down of Fee amounts during billing should be allocated to the responsible lawyer or not. This is important and most firms leave it disabled if they wish the changes to be pro-rated amongst the working lawyers.
The next important area is under System Systems>Data Entry tab. Here you define how the collections are applied. Most firms leave it to Taxes, Disbursements and Fees in that order. It is important that this setting reflects the company’s policies and once set this setting is not changed. However this can be overridden on a case by case basis. For instance if the client is only paying the Disbursements and Taxes portion of the bill and not the fees, this can be allocated at data entry under Receive Payment>invoices tab>Payment details button.
The other area to look carefully at is at Matter levels Bill Settings. Here under Options “Auto Allocate Time/Fees to Working Lawyers” is checked by default and that is what most firms wish to allow PCLaw to automatically determine and allocate the fee credits to the lawyers working on the case at billing time in proportion to the value of their time spent. If it is the company policy for all fee credits to go the file holder then this option must be left unchecked (fee credits in such a case will go the Responsible Lawyer).
Within these parameters PCLaw still allows you to override who gets the fee credits at billing stage. If fee credit overrides is to be done, this can be accomplished at the “Prompt for changes to Billed Amount” stage during billing or at Matter Manger>Billing tab under “Split Lawyer Charges”. Firms must set clear rules embedded at Prebill levels for partners in charge of the matter to indicate desired fee credit allocations on Prebills.
Properly setting up the system and defining rules for partners, billing/accounts staff to follow for fee credits and collections is therefore vital to get accurate and consistent billings and collections reports.