Law firms often require a lot of specialized support staff to keep things running smoothly. A legal billing specialist works closely with lawyers, paralegals, and other staff to make the billing process run smoothly and ensure the firm is getting paid.
Legal billing specialist careers are growing. Find out if this is the right career for you.
What Is a Legal Billing Specialist?
Legal billing specialists are support staff responsible for creating and maintaining legal bills for the firm’s clients. They work with support staff and lawyers to ensure all the necessary information is included on each bill.
Depending on the firm, legal billing specialists may be responsible for tracking down past-due payments from clients or third parties. This may involve sending letters, making calls, or pursuing legal action for past-due accounts.
Some of the day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Compiling billing statements
- Generating invoices
- Reviewing legal documents for accuracy
- Reviewing past due accounts and setting up payment plans
- Reviewing account status and activity to ensure compliance with state laws regarding lawyer licensing requirements
- Determining whether services have been performed or fees incurred according to legal ethics standards
- Collecting past due accounts receivable by contacting clients or working with a collection agency
- Tracking time and attendance using timekeeping systems
- Managing the process of submitting claims to insurance companies as needed
- Preparing and filing court documents
How to Start a Career as a Legal Billing Specialist
Legal billing can be a challenging career to get into. Some law firms require an accounting or business background with a bachelor’s degree. There are still opportunities for legal billing specialists with an associate degree or no degree, however, as long as they have experience with billing.
Some vocational schools offer coursework in legal billing or online courses, which can help you gain the necessary skill set for the job. Some of these skills include:
- Accounting knowledge
- Computer literacy and the ability to learn a legal time tracking and billing system
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills, both written and spoken
- The ability to multitask and work in a fast-paced environment
- Exceptional organizational skills
- An understanding of the confidentiality and gravity of the legal industry
Legal billing specialists may get their start in an entry-level position at a law firm, but you have the option to open your own legal billing business. Law firms outsource a lot of the administrative work, including billing, and this option gives you the flexibility to choose your workload, hours, and clients.
Running a business isn’t for the faint of heart and requires high attention to detail and organization. You will need business acumen and marketing skills to get your name out there and attract law firms seeking your services.
Job Market Outlook for Legal Billing Specialists
Legal billing specialists’ salaries can vary according to their experience and education, the size of the firm, and the location.
According to ZipRecruiter, the median salary for legal specialists is $55,013 annually, which is approximately $26.45 an hour. Annual salaries may be as high as $77,000 or as low as $27,500, but the majority fall in the range of $45,500 to $63,000. The top earners can make $71,500 annually.
The job outlook varies across the country. Like other industries, the legal industry is shifting toward technology to handle repetitive or time-consuming work, including billing.
This can be an opportunity and not a barrier. While the role of legal billing specialists may change and evolve, they still serve a crucial role at medium- and large law firms. Legal billing specialists should become proficient with legal billing software to adapt to the job market changes.
How Legal Billing Software Supports Legal Billing Professionals
As mentioned, legal billing software is essential in automating and streamlining some of a legal billing specialist’s work, but that doesn’t mean the role is being replaced entirely. Instead, it’s changing and offering new and different opportunities.
The most valuable asset in virtually every profession is time — we all want to get more done in less time. Billing and invoicing take a lot of time and require administrative skills, which is why law firms hire legal billing specialists.
These professionals are tasked with filling out invoices manually — a process that’s time-consuming and error-prone.
The manual process of invoicing is vulnerable to errors that can lead to delays in the payment process, poor relationships with clients, and billing disputes. This often falls on the legal billing specialist.
Effective legal billing software can be used to standardize the billing process and compile all the data — ensuring that there are minimal errors. Invoicing takes less time, clients are happier, and the firm gets paid faster.
Automated Accounting and Payment Reminders
Automation is a helpful resource for law firms to limit repetitive billing procedures. You can automate the billing process for recurring payments, subscription models, or other alternative payment arrangements and free your time to focus on mission-critical tasks.
Streamlines the Payment Process
The traditional slow-moving billing and payment process can take a toll on overall revenue and cash flow. Legal billing specialists or other support staff have to create and check invoices, send them to the clients, then wait for the payments to come in.
A faster payment process that caters to client experience means your firm will get paid faster.
Reporting is an ongoing process that all law firms should prioritize to make more informed decisions about the health and profitability of the firm.
Legal Billing Software for Legal Billing Specialists
Whether you’re considering a career as a legal billing specialist or you’re already working at your own firm or a large law firm, learning the ins and outs of legal billing software is a must for the future of your career.