How Can Legal Departments Add Value to Law Firms During Onboarding?

Getting your law firms onboarded as efficiently and painlessly as possible is a key factor in the overall success of a legal e-billing project.

Although e-billing vendors now have considerable experience in supporting legal departments through the implementation, there needs to be more emphasis placed on the problems and issues law firms face. While the technical aspects of the e-billing solution may be well documented, it is often the overlooked non-technical issues that cause law firms the most significant problems.

These issues can include: How should the law firm be organized to implement e-billing – should it be a centralized function or not? What additional processes must the firm implement to ensure that billing data is accurate and timely? What additional resources and IT system changes will be needed to meet the requirements of e-billing?

While most law firms can overcome these major issues, either on their own or with some external consultancy, there are detailed aspects that can be unique to your project. When you start onboarding, you can expect to receive a list of questions from your firm that cover these specific areas. These questions include:

  • What is the scope of the implementation, i.e., which law firm offices, which of your entities, and what matter types are in scope?
  • Will you require UTBMS codes, i.e., which Task/Activity/Expense codes are mandatory?
  • What are the recognized timekeeper classifications?
  • Which LEDES file formats are accepted, or how else can law firms submit billing data?
  • Do you require Work in Progress (WIP) information to be submitted?
  • Are there any special billing requirements, and how should fixed fee work be billed?
  • How will the firms be instructed on new matters?
  • How are charging rates managed and validated?
  • What are the payment processes for valid invoices?
  • What validation rules apply, e.g., what expenses will you reject, and which timekeeper types cannot get a charge?
  • It helps to be proactive and think about these questions from the start of the project.

You must also provide a Billing Guidelines document containing rules and processes for the firms to follow. We recommend a dedicated law firm success resource to help ensure the project addresses these questions and removes frustration for firms.

Onit’s European legal spend management solution BusyLamp eBilling.Space provides this for every project in the form of Bryan King, who has over 15 years of e-billing onboarding experience, initially at Clifford Chance. While indirectly working for the legal department, this person assists all law firms with onboarding and implementation and provides a single liaison point between vendors, firms, and the legal department. Many law firms are familiar with e-billing now. Still, those less experienced firms welcome the opportunity to have the assistance of an individual who understands the issues often faced by the law firm.

These two quotes show how valuable this is for firms; the first is from the e-billing Manager of a large international City firm, and the second is from the Finance Director of a smaller regional UK firm.

“I have been involved with e-billing for around ten years at various major UK law firms. As it evolves, the challenges are increasing. Clients often have dramatically different approaches and requirements. What is undoubtedly critical to the successful implementation of e-billing is an effective onboarding process. I firmly believe that BusyLamp appointing Bryan King as a lead was an excellent business decision. With his law firm insight and expertise, he has been able to play a vital role of considerable value by assisting both the client and BusyLamp with law firm questions and confirming when those firms have raised pertinent questions or made observations of merit. This drives a more effective onboarding process which focusses on key areas of challenge which historically have been overlooked until post-implementation, which typically manifest in a backlog of rejected e-bills.”

“This is the first time that we have seen someone like Bryan working for an e-billing vendor. Usually, the vendor sends us a letter about a client requiring Billing, and we are left to get on with it (…) so useful having someone to answer our questions and who understands our concerns and issues.”


Every e-billing implementation will benefit from a clear set of rules documenting working practices and expectations around the client billing function. Your e-billing vendor will advise you on what to include. Download this handy guide for some examples. Providing these clear rules will mean your firms will be ready and able to use the solution and provide successful e-billing.

  • Go above and beyond ‘help desk’ level support for your firms by appointing someone (or selecting a vendor who provides someone) who understands law firm issues and works collaboratively with them through their onboarding process.
  • Work with your vendor to answer a list of questions in anticipation of receiving them from your firms and be prepared to work with the law firm success manager to answer further queries as they arise.
  • Make sure you have selected a solution that prioritizes the law firm experience in the interface through training and onboarding and using the latest technology to reduce the administrative burden for outside counsel.

E-billing offers great opportunities for you and your law firms to work collaboratively on a non-legal project with common goals. The aim should be to reduce billing errors, enhance the quality of billing information and improve decision-making processes. Implementing e-billing software is also a chance to work more effectively and efficiently with your outside counsel in a win-win partnership.

Request a demo of BusyLamp eBilling.Space today.

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