Billing Arrangements

Hello all! I’ve followed this forum for many years, but this is my first post. Even though I’ve edited it, I know it’s too long and probably makes no sense, so please forgive me.

I’ve been a paralegal in a 6-attorney firm for 15+ years. We’ve been using Timeslips for a very long time. It took forever for the office manager to let us upgrade.  We don’t get to use TS to its full potential. For example, we’re not allowed to finalize bills, so any AR report is useless, as it looks like most of our clients have credits when they actually do not.

My main question concerns the correct way to set up clients either on time charges or on a flat fee. My attorney has always done billing differently than the others, and it works for the two of us. Note that my time is hardly ever billed to the client because he usually bills a flat fee.

I instructed our receptionist a long time ago that when she opens new files, she could check “Slips Default to No Charge”.  The office manager has now stated that I can’t do that anymore. Instead, he wants me to enter my time as billable and then change it at the END of the job if needed. That seems like a lot of extra work to me, especially with the clients who might have a case ongoing for years.

My attorney normally has only two ways of doing bills.  (1) Retainer plus expenses:  The client will see my time along with attorney’s, but it’s marked as No Charge. (2) Flat fee:  I either enter my time as Do Not Bill, or I’ll uncheck all my slips when I’m printing the bill so that nothing else shows except the retainer and the payments.

When I close the file, I’ll manipulate the slips so that the client is zeroed out and then print a final bill for our file only to attach to a closeout sheet. When moving the client from open to closed, I get the warning about unapplied amounts, but I ignore it. So I’m aware that it looks like the client still owes money when they really don’t. 

Now for the other attorneys:  Nearly all of their paralegals’ time is billed against the retainer.  When they close their files out, the final statement might show, for example, that all their time might equal only $3750 of the $5000 retainer. They will then make a final entry that just says something like “$1250 attorneys fees”, and they rarely issue a refund.

I told the office manager today that maybe I’d start using the Absolute Flat Fee billing arrangement, and I’m pretty sure that would work to do things his way. His response was, “You don’t know how to use Timeslips and you never have.”.   So even if I am doing anything right, I’ll never convince him of that.

I apologize again for this rambling mess. It’s awful I know. I would like some advice from other users on procedures.  I just want to know the best way to do things, even if I’m never allowed to do them. Thanks for any suggestions. 

  • Timeslips has a flat fee capability which is what I would suggest using. You enter time as billable and then run the bill with the arrangement as flat fee. The slip billable values will automatically be adjusted to reflect the flat fee. You can run reports based on flat fee profitability. With the right bill layout you can show time but not rate/amount or whatever you want. As a certified consultant I would be happy to provide training on this area.