How to Impress In-House Counsel: Invoices

In the last blog, I shared some thoughts on the importance of preparation and responsiveness when working with in-house counsel, as expressed by a panel at a Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association meeting. In the current blog I’ll impart the panel’s advice on how to incorporate invoicing into your marketing. To read the first post of this series, click here.

  • Provide informative, descriptive invoices. For instance, rather than merely stating “document review,” explain what you reviewed and in what context. That way, in-house counsel won’t be subjected to questions from their superiors. Detailed invoices are also a great marketing opportunity because they showcase your expertise.
  • If you’re writing off time, explain it on the invoice. It will help in-house counsel demonstrate to their management that you’re on the company’s side, avoiding the common perception that attorneys charge for every minute. Also, if you’re writing time off, in-house counsel is less likely to challenge the amount of time you took to complete other tasks. By writing off time, and explaining it clearly, you’re investing in building a long term relationship.
  • Manage and staff cases efficiently to show that it’s cost-effective to work with your firm. Consolidate as much work in as few bodies as possible. Carefully assess how many lawyers really need to attend a deposition. Assign associates who are committed to stay with your firm, and if an associate departs, don’t charge for a new person’s ramp-up time. If you need to staff the case with senior people because of associate layoffs, discount their fees. Although senior lawyers may be more efficient, don’t charge a five-year associate’s fee for a job that could have been done by a two-year associate.
    More good advice from the panel on building relationships and working with in-house counsel will follow in the next blog post.

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