Lawyers, accountants and auditors who are typically paid by the hour, have a hard time getting paid what they are truly owed.
This is in part due to fee paying clients putting up barriers and hurdles firms must jump over or around, in order to receive what they billed for.
These hurdles and barriers are in some industries, especially insurance and other litigations, labyrinthine and cumbersome to navigate. Their legal billing software platforms also leave a lot to be desired.
This is what I would term the “poacher” approach to cost containment on the client side.
Poaching connotes stealing or robbing, which may sound harsh, but the net results of cost containment regimes are that the professional services firms lose money.
Keeping with this poacher/gamekeeper theme, the aforementioned view has been derived from my years of working as a technology-driven poacher for over 20 years, on behalf of some of the largest insurance companies in the world, e.g. Chubb.
Having set up a technology and services legal billing software firm designed specifically to cut costs for paying clients, we have a strong background in just how much pain a law firm or auditing firm goes through in order to be paid what they are owed.
Now don’t get me wrong, professional services firms are inherently poor at billing their clients accurately, and often make many mistakes that end up resulting in the poacher easily identifying and removing the associated billing requests. There is room for improvement on the professional services firm side for certain...but more on that later.
For now, I’ll start off by saying low quality legal billing software and e-billing tools do not help the cause of the “by the hour” professionals.
Creating, implementing and maintaining cost containment systems forced me to think about the value the poacher truly brings to the fee-paying client...those receiving invoices from professionals. Our client side legal billing software works well, and saves our customers 6-11% in billing-related costs, but really only targets the aftermath of poor billing practices by the law firm, auditor or accounting practice.
I have questioned how poachers can keep claiming to save their clients double digits per annum, when this is simply not logical nor feasible year over year. If poachers save their clients 8% per year, for example, the client would have a steady declining cost, even to zero...but this is simply not the case. Poachers simply help to “churn” invoices submitted via legal billing software platforms.
The poaching programs also set up a negative and confrontational atmosphere between the client and its professional services firms, with the poacher acting as a 3rd party police force to keep the client’s hands clean.
This all logically leads to the question of “what’s next?” In a clearly broken system, there’s room for a win-win disruption for all stakeholders involved, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The Gamekeeper Approach
We are switching sides, so to speak.
Not to the dark side, or anything quite like that, but to a new approach. We have decided that by working on behalf of law firms, auditors and accounting practices, we can tackle the e-billing issue at its source. We are a poacher turned “gamekeeper.”
The role of the gamekeeper is to ensure there is no “theft or robbery” being conducted. We are going to make the role of poacher redundant by removing the errors inherent in invoices from their source.
The main principles are to retain revenues, lower losses [from poachers] and improve profitability of the professional services firm by using the best legal billing software.
Having devised many complex systems and processes to contain costs on behalf of the fee paying client as a poacher, we understand all the “pain points” felt by the firms, and therefore, we have a clear vision on how to remedy these issues.
Introducing, Bilr, a multi-modal e-billing application built to run on both mobile devices and desktop/laptop browsers.
All aspects of the gamekeeper approach are supported, from time recording using speech-to-text, all the way through to invoice submission and tracking of accounts receivables. A full end-to-end audit trail from target recorded time per timekeeper [fee earner], to accounts receivable actual.
We have also built Bilr with a mind towards interoperability with existing IT infrastructures.
Being a gamekeeper means that we are able to protect and defend our professional services clients against poaching.
Gamekeeping also preserves and adds value as it helps to put quality time back into the firm, freeing up resources to focus on new client needs and of course increasing revenues.
This approach also generates a lot of highly valuable data points we use in our legal billing software data analytics tools, which demonstrate the power and positive impact of the gamekeeper model.
Moving from the negative as a poacher to the positive as a gamekeeper has been a challenging but very healthy and enlightening transition to make.
It is one that has created an opportunity to serve in a way that help support new business and drive outcomes for professional services firms worldwide.
Bilr, the “Gamekeeper”, is here to serve and protect your revenue streams.
We are “Raising the Revenue Bar”
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Gary Markham is an ex-Legalgard senior Director, director of litigation management and cost containment at DXC, and Executive Chairman of LSG. He has also advised on many the LEDES oversight committees initiative in the e-billing and cost containment space. Now, the CEO of Bilr, he is 100% focused on driving value to professional services firms and other industries where time recording and billing processes are in need of modernization through cutting-edge legal billing software technologies.