A Seven-Step Process for Fixed-Fee Billing
1. Developing the Billing Framework
- Review existing fee-setting and estimating processes by practice group.
- Ascertain what internal financial data is available to assist in quoting fees for the group’s work.
2. Determining the Scope of the Matter
- Engage lawyers with the appropriate experience and skill to develop a scope document.
- Make client input and approval part of the scoping process.
3. Quoting the Fee
- Use past matters of similar scope to determine appropriate fees for the work.
- If a matter has a high level of uncertainty, quote the fee in phases with fixed benchmarks as triggering points for consultation with the client.
- Obtain client payment terms in writing, including an agreed-on billing frequency.
4. Using the Engagement Letter
- Include the approved scope document in the engagement letter.
- Obtain client signatory approval at the proper senior management level.
5. Monitoring the Matter
- Determine which member of the client team has oversight responsibility for monitoring the ongoing work.
- Monitor the work regularly (no less than semimonthly) to ensure that issues that could cause delays or cost overruns are caught early.
- Engage the help and support of firm management if issues arise that could cause cost overruns.
- Communicate with the client regularly. Be timely in notifying the client of issues that could cause the fee to increase.
- Bill according to the agreed-on timetable for work performed within that time period.
7. Documenting the Matter
- Document the matter in a way that will be useful in quoting future matters.
- Send a postmortem client satisfaction questionnaire to obtain feedback.
- Debrief with the client about what went well and what could have been done better.
- Use the debriefing to refine your service and fee quotes and obtain further work.
Compiled by the Cleland Consulting Group, Inc.