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The Double Billing Dilemma: Legal Ops Strategies for Detection and Prevention

The Problem of Double Billing

You spend a lot of time building a rapport with outside counsel. But that relationship can fray when you have questions about the invoices for their legal services—especially if you spot an error that has resulted in double billing.

There are, of course, safeguards that can be implemented to help prevent double billing. Well-constructed billing guidelines can often put a process in place to proactively avoid billing issues without stepping on anyone’s toes. Better yet, legal billing software can help flag instances of double billing before an invoice even makes its way to you.

However, to better understand the best ways of addressing double billing, it’s important to first understand what double billing is. Below, we’ll help you understand double billing, outline some reasons why it happens, and highlight a few ways to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

What is Double Billing?

There are two types of double billing:

  • Double billing an invoice, where an entire invoice is charged twice due to law firm billing system errors, or because rejected/disputed invoices are not identified properly.
  • Double billing individual line items, which typically happens either due to billing errors, or because outside counsel copy and paste descriptions for similar work.

Even though most billing errors happen because of simple mistakes, they can be costly. According to the California State Bar, bad billing hygiene results in billing increases of 10–30%.

By learning how these errors happen and working to prevent them, legal ops professionals can save their organizations significant amounts of money, ease friction between in-house legal teams and outside counsel, and lead the charge on good billing hygiene.

How Legal Technology Makes Double Billing Prevention Easier

If you’re reviewing invoices manually, it can be all-too-easy to miss when an outside firm overcharges for their legal services.

Whether they have copied descriptions for similar work into a new line item or billed your team a second time for a recently disputed invoice, you need a system in place for catching common mistakes and preventing double billing from happening in the first place.

Legal technology is a major asset for legal ops professionals who want to address invoicing woes and reduce spend.

By investing in the right tech, you can:

  • Avoid repetitive, manual invoice reviews and improve review accuracy
  • Generate detailed reports of outside counsel’s work to validate proposed charges
  • Accurately track agreed fee models against work billed
  • Automatically flag billing guideline violations

Thanks to powerful advances in AI, legal ops professionals have one more tool at their disposal for saving themselves time—and saving their firm’s bottom line.

Develop Good Billing Hygiene with Outside Counsel Guidelines

Outside counsel guidelines (OCGs), or billing guidelines, provide detailed instructions on how legal services should be managed, tracked, and billed.

Putting a strong set of OCGs in place is the best way to ensure that your firm is being billed correctly—for the right services, by the right member of the legal team, and at the right rate.

OCGs also provide the framework for automating the work of invoice review. Once your OCGs are in place, you can implement them into a platform like Brightflag to identify invoices that don’t meet your standards—and occasionally prevent double billing for legal services.

Conclusion

Staying on top of your legal spend doesn’t have to be difficult. Enforcing good billing hygiene with OCGs and using legal technology to improve your invoicing workflows goes a long way toward nipping double billing in the bud.

Learn more about how Brightflag’s software can help you manage outside firms, ensure good billing hygiene, control costs, and plan future legal spend—all in one place.