When working with prospects during our 29 years in business, we are often asked the question, “Why shouldn’t we just bring the bill review process in-house?” Over the years, we have seen the trend change from companies creating a bill review unit in-house or having current staff review bills to using an outside vendor (legal auditor) for the bill review process.
Whether a client uses Stuart Maue or another vendor in the industry, there are many benefits to using a third party for legal bill review services. This blog post briefly outlines some of the major benefits of outsourcing legal bill review.
Uniformity in review: Unless a company has a stand-alone bill review unit, it will be difficult to maintain a standard method of review for legal invoices. When companies use their current staff to review invoices related to their matters, there is little consistency for law firms. Many third-party legal bill review companies use a standard methodology when reviewing invoices. With standardization in the review, law firms quickly learn the billing expectations of the company. In addition, the legal auditor is available to discuss concerns about the bill review with the firms. This frees the client, who may have built a strong relationship with the firm, from the task.
Best practices: Third-party bill review companies work with many organizations. Working with different companies allows them to see what techniques work well in various situations. They can provide best practices in revising billing guidelines, provide workflow recommendations, and guidance on creating and managing budgets. Additionally, many experienced legal auditors have a strong understanding of complex litigation that they can bring to the review process. Reviewing for billing issues does not require in-depth knowledge of the facts of the case but it does require specialized knowledge in spotting billing issues and the litigation process. A legal auditor can provide a client with both areas of knowledge.
Rapid turnaround times: Outside bill review companies are dedicated to your program. They aren’t splitting their time on a multitude of competing tasks. This allows them to review your firm invoices quickly. Firms benefit from the dedicated review as well. Firms can call the bill review company to check on the status of review instead of interrupting the client. Some legal auditing companies even have a customer service group dedicated to assisting the law firms with payment issues and questions involving uploading invoices and budgeting.
Advanced technology: A third-party bill review company has the advantage of offering clients the latest in advanced technology. Clients usually have some type of client portal to electronically approve, track, and send reviewed invoices for payment. They also provide clients with management reports and some of the more sophisticated vendors offer advanced analytics. Usually, trying to build comparable technology from the ground up in an organization is cost prohibitive as the organization typically lacks the technical resources.
Neutrality: Third-party vendors are paid based on a percentage of fees reviewed. This allows the legal auditor to remain neutral during an invoice review. In-house reviews can become difficult when the in-house staff is asked to review the invoices of a firm where they have built close relationships. Using a legal auditor allows the client to maintain their relationship with the law firm.
Cost: In our over 29 years of experience, we have not had a client pay more for our services than the amount we saved them in non-compliant findings. This provides a no-cost bill review program for clients. When developing a legal bill review unit, the client will need to factor in items such as the cost of salaries, training, insurance, and benefits for the additional employees. If the company decides to use current staff to review invoices, they will need to take into account the cost of training these employees and consider what type of time constraints their employees have with their current workload.
Uniformity in review, best practices, rapid turnaround times, technology, neutrality, and cost are just a few of the benefits of using a legal auditor to review your legal bills. It is also important to remember that a legal auditor will do the initial review of the invoices, but they defer to the client regarding the final amount paid. In fact, we encourage our clients to review our findings. Our findings can be one of the tools used to evaluate firm performance in an overall litigation management strategy.