Juris’s three major updates are:
- An integration with ClientPay for online payment acceptance to streamline credit card and e payment processing better.
- An improved reporting module that provides firm leaders real-time view of billing and payment information.
- Upgrades to the email template to improve email billing workflows.
Usually, I don’t get too excited about back-office software and platforms for law firms since I focus more on the practice of law. But I thought the announcement was particularly interesting given the results of the Clio 2020 Legal Trends Report released last week. (Clio provides cloud practice management programs mainly to small and mid-size law firms). Every year, Clio surveys the legal marketplace and prepares its Legal Trends Report.
The 2020 Report identifies three common characteristics of firms that have done better financially during the pandemic:
- The firms adopted online billing and payment mechanisms.
- The firms utilized client portals for communicating with and providing information.
- The firms used client intake and CRM to communicate better and inform potential clients before they signed on.
The Juris 3.0 platform provides the opportunity for the enhancement of at least one characteristic—online payment—directly and probably indirectly advances the other two.
I talked this week to Scott Wallingford, Vice President and General Manager of LexisNexis Software, and Scott Winter, Director of Product Management at LexisNexis about Juris 3.0 and the advantages of online and credit card payments for legal services. We all agreed that it makes sense why the acceptance by law firms of online and credit card payment is such a win-win for clients and law firms.
The client gets ease of payment. Let’s face it, most of us don’t like paying bills. For me, the bills that get paid first are the ones from the businesses that allow me to easily pay online with a credit card. The ones I put off paying are generally the ones that demand a mailed check. Gotta find the checkbook. Gotta find and address an envelope. Gotta find a stamp. And while some of these functions are automated in some businesses, ease of payment is essential.
For law firms, getting paid sooner is always better. So using processes that allow clients to pay with the least amount of friction means revenue in the door and lower accounts receivable. For cash-based businesses like most law firms, AR can be an albatross around the firm’s neck. And let’s face, the time value of money is a real and calculatable value.
Juris 3.0 also automates the billing and collection process. Bill prepared, bill automatically send to client. Client pays with a couple of clicks.
The new software also lets law firms easily keep track of and view AR by matter and billing lawyer, so it’s easy to see who is behind and by how much. Another significant feature: it allows for the creation of rules that would apply a client’s billing guidelines to the bill before it’s send. I saw too many lawyers ignore Guidelines and send invoices out. The result was write-offs and friction with the client. But it’s easy to see how this happens since different client can have vastly different billing rules that are hard to keep track of manually. But automating this function leads to improved collections and relations with a minimum investment of time.
One feature Juris 3.0 lends itself to is a determination of which clients are good ones and the type a firm wants. And which ones are not. By keeping track of AR and assigning a time value to the unpaid bills, a firm could better see what a client’s true worth to the firm is. Combining this with things like write-offs, hourly rates, discounts, etc. would enable a firm to score a client and compare it to others. Some clients may produce what appears to be significant revenues but, in reality, are of comparatively low value to the firm. This comparative score could then be used to make resource and marketing decisions. It could also be used to deal with recalcitrant originating partners. The one who adamantly defends working for clients that do little more than produce low value revenue.
To their credit, Scott and Scott agreed and thought that Juris 3.0 might provide just this sort of analysis with some tweaking. It’s always great when legal tech guys and their companies not only talk but also listen!