April 21, 2014

From Law360

By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Billing can expose the tensions that lie beneath the surface of even the most harmonious law firm-client relationships, and experts say inaccuracy, lack of communication and a failure to mind details are the root of all evil in this important arena.

In the post-financial crisis landscape, clients and law firms alike have tightened their belts and are staying alert for new ways to make their enterprises deliver excellent value more efficiently than in the past. Clients are now far more focused on rationalizing legal costs, and it’s more important than ever for lawyers to make sure they’re in alignment with clients about billing expectations.

Surprises about the amount being billed, services being billed for, or other expenses will usually result in a conversation with the client, which by its very nature, can be fraught with the potential for confrontation, said Stacy Carpenter, a shareholder with Polsinelli PC who commits a large percentage of her practice to legal malpractice defense.

“Nothing good is coming of that call. The client is upset about something on the bill, and that can really be the beginning of a mistrustful relationship,” she said.

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