Building trust with your clients through transparency

Daan Pruijssers
23 January 2018

As a lawyer you might have noticed that your clients expectations have changed. Clients nowadays have more complex and intricate requirements, which is becoming increasingly more difficult for law firms to facilitate properly. In this article we will focus on the ever increasing demand for transparency, especially regarding billing. Such transparency towards clients is a large benefit not only your firm but to your clients alike. An issue that some CFO’s might recognize in more increasing frequency is that clients require an itemised bill. Large corporate clients often present law firms with stringent billing guidelines in which they stipulate what should be added and more importantly excluded e.g. research cost disbursements This issue is further compounded if law firms don’t have an adequate system in place for tracking time and expenses. Apart from technology, communication towards your clients plays a large role in achieving the desired level of transparency. We will further outline both of these aspects below.

Communication

As the saying goes; communication is the lifeblood of every relationship. Therefore this is where the transparency begins. During your first interaction you can discuss the costs involved, walk them through the litigation process, decide on a projected budget and agree on a contingency fund in case of unforeseen complications or delays. This will help to manage their expectations and create the transparency level needed to build trust.

Technology

Technology isn’t the only way to increase transparency within your law firm, it is however a good place to start. There are many legal tech solutions available that will give you insight in time spent and billing. By providing your clients with a detailed and itemised bill you will ensure a seamless and positive experience without any unforeseen financial surprises. This will result in satisfied and grateful clients. Transparency in your activities can be improved by using time tracking tools, which allows you to justify your expenses and fees.

Processes

Process transparency provides higher visibility of internal activities towards the clients, partners and board members alike. A larger degree of access increases customer satisfaction, promotes teamwork, and assists in the streamlining of processes. We recently published an article on how to strategize a plan on how to streamline your non-billable activities. 

Apart from that, such technology can clear up any dispute over an invoice quickly, by referring to your practice management system and checking the captured time spent on a specific matter or client.

It is therefore essential to track your expenses. You will gain the confidence of your clients when you can show them your receipts and expenses.

Essentially, law firms should not wait for the moment when clients demand an itemised bill but be proactive and provide such information beforehand. This will ensure that you provide your clients with a professional service thus upholding the standard and reputation of your law firm.

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