Itemised time billing is often experienced (rightly or wrongly) as a relentless one way bargain skewed in the firm’s favour. This can produce various payment issues, including discount demands, and eventually broken relationships.
Judicious use of no-charge (N/C) entries for some itemised attendances can change this for the better.
Don’t fret about throwing away money – we are talking about small, often trivial or personal attendances that you probably weren’t charging for anyway (missed calls, coffees, simple process-based emails etc.)
So this is what you do:
(a) Record absolutely every attendance – no matter how trivial;
(b) where appropriate, personalise the description;
(c) review your draft bills and see which lines can / should be N/C; and
(d) finalise your account so the client can see every service provided BUT with a better sense of value through the N/C items.
This approach signals that you are capable of caring about the client without the clock running. It can be very powerful – even (especially) with large corporate clients. We have clients who swear by it. You’ll spend less time in billing battles – and just maybe win the client confidence war.
Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor, August 2012 (p.49)