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How many firms use tech for billing?

New research offers insights into the extent to which boutique law firms utilise tech platforms to manage their billing processes and related financial, administrative tasks.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 28 October 2021 SME Law
How many firms use tech for billing?
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Earlier in October, leading practice management software company Smokeball released the results of its Small Law Firm Business Survey: Legal Billing Hygiene, exploring the time spent on, frequency of, and processes for billing by boutique firm owners across Australia.

The responses of firms that responded, including practices that cover family law, conveyancing, wills and estates, litigation, leasing and commercial agreements, among other practice areas, show that many firms across Australia must improve their billing habits.

Last week, Lawyers Weekly reported on the extent to which small law firms are willing to write off fees for clients, among other considerations around how much firms are charging for their services.


The survey found that while three in four (76 per cent) of small law firms have standardised billing processes and use technology to manage their invoices, just over half (52 per cent) use software to automatically track time and generate fee entries.

When asked whether tech helps with billing administrative efficiency, 88 per cent said they either “strongly agree” or “agree”, while 12 per cent said they “neither agree nor disagree”. No respondent indicated that they do not agree that tech improves billing efficiency.

Three in five (61 per cent) of respondents said that their billing software is secure, while one quarter (28 per cent) are unsure if this is the case.

Four per cent of respondents said that they use a third-party provider for this, and of those firms, 53 per cent said that they had not done their due diligence on that provider.

This said, for those who implemented tech platforms for their own firms during or before 2020, just 35 per cent said that such tech investment had assisted the business with cash flow management challenges, while 45 per cent said that it hadn’t.

This low number of firms whose challenges have been alleviated may be partly due to the fact that 47 per cent of firms believe that the age of coronavirus has affected the ability of clients to pay their bills.

Most firms review their aged debtors on a monthly basis (39 per cent), while 27 per cent do it weekly, 12 per cent do it quarterly, and 7 per cent do it daily.

In comments provided last week to Lawyers Weekly, Smokeball CRO Jane Oxley: “Even though firms have largely invested in technology and, particularly with remote working this year, are using that well, there is still a lot of manual effort that goes into the billing process, which surprised us.”

Smokeball will, she went on, work with such firms to see where improvements can be made to reduce the time spent on this.

“We’re hoping that with a combination of education and technology, we can help to challenge these manual processes and introduce further ways through our technology to assist this transition.”