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Alternative Fee Arrangements to Suit Clients of All Backgrounds

Though high-income individuals are by no means the only ones in need of legal services, they are often able to access quality legal professionals with virtually no limitations. Of course, this is through no fault of the attorney; after all, we all have bills to pay, and practicing law is a time-and-energy consuming occupation that warrants generous compensation. However, this does not detract from the fact that many low-and-moderate-income families run a far higher risk of receiving less-than-stellar legal assistance due to the limitations of their bank accounts. As the practice of law becomes increasingly diversified and versatile, though, this is beginning to change. Attorneys across an array of firm sizes are shifting away from relying on billable hours as their primary means of billing, opting instead for alternative fee arrangements. This is beneficial not only to the client but to the attorney, as well; a small- or medium-sized firm with flexible billing options is more likely to attract a larger, more interesting client base than a stuck-in-its-ways firm. If your firm is looking to explore or optimize its alternative fee arrangements, its practice management software should have the capacity to automate any billing structure.

Payment Plans

Among the most important billing features your practice management software can offer is the ability to create, track, and invoice for payment plans. Only a slim margin of the legal client base is able to pay thousands’ worth of legal fees in one out-of-pocket payment. This limitation shouldn’t mean fewer clients for your firm; it should mean working through your practice management software to create a payment plan that is mutually beneficial to the client and the firm. Take care to look for a practice management software offering payment plan billing options, including automated reminders, invoice generation, and flexible amounts.

Flat Fee Billing

The general trend away from the billable hour visible in the legal field is evident, as is the rise in flat fee billing. Now more than ever, legal professionals find it more efficient and profitable to charge flat fees for certain services. Though seemingly simpler than other alternative fee arrangements, flat fee billing is scarcely supported by practice management software in a comprehensive way. Take care to search for this feature as you evaluate different solutions, taking care to ask your account manager detailed questions about its functionality.

Contingency Billing

Of course, a vast amount of legal professionals – particularly those working in personal injury – have a tendency to bill on contingency. Your practice management solution must have this functionality, as it is a crucial element of the legal field that cannot be overlooked for the pizzazz of an automated timer. Even if contingency billing is not typically your firm’s go-to alternative fee arrangement, look to a practice management software that provides functionality for it. This is indicative not only of a versatile platform but of sophisticated billing features in general.

Alternative fee arrangements are becoming the standard

With the increased diversification of the legal field, and the accessibility of legal services through technology, the average legal consumer’s financial needs are becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint. It’s not fair or feasible for your firm to lose clients due to this increased visibility; rather, it is advisable to look into alternative fee arrangements that accommodate both your clients and your firm. By evaluating your practice management software options based on their ability to adapt to alternative fee arrangements,  you’ll be establishing a world of billing (and profitability) opportunities for your firm.

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About this Author

Jaliz Maldonado, Practice Panther Miami Legal Marketing and Law Office Management author

Jaliz Maldonado is an eight-year Army Veteran and is currently in graduate school at the University of Miami where she is studying for her MBA. When she's not working at PracticePanther as the Operations Manager or studying, she's hanging out with her English Bulldog named Dumbell, painting, or reading. Jaliz is also strong with the force and belongs to House Slytherin. Make sure to connect with her via Linkedin and follow her on twitter @JalizMaldonado.

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