Paperless Invoicing: How to Make the Change

by Myrna Johns / May 09, 2024

Paperless Invoicing: How to Make the Change

Going paperless is a business strategy that offers a lot of benefits to law firms. Think:   

  • More manageable billing workflows 
  • Quicker payments 
  • Reduced costs 
  • Improved security 
  • Greater client satisfaction 
  • Reduced environmental impact

But if your law firm has been trapped in a cycle of printer paper, ink cartridges, and envelope-related paper cuts, where do you start?   

One of the best ways to reduce paper in the office is to start small. You don’t have to eliminate all paper use to quickly experience significant improvements.   

For many law firms, the most impactful switch comes with going to paperless invoicing. This switch comes with a few setup requirements, but once implemented, it provides a better overall invoicing experience for both your law firm and your clients. Here are five strategies to help you move to paperless invoicing with ease. 

1. Share the benefits of paperless invoicing with your staff and your clients. 

To make any change more effective, you have to convince others why they should also embrace change.   

For your clients, you can emphasize both the sustainability and convenience that comes with paperless invoices. Consider sharing the following facts:   

  • The average attorney goes through 100,000 sheets of paper each year. That means the average lawyer consumes the paper of 10 trees in just one year.
  • Even though most paper is recyclable, it still makes up an estimated 26% of waste in landfills. But it’s also a no-win situation; recycling paper actually uses more harmful fossil fuels than just throwing it in the landfill.
  • For clients, the switch to electronic invoicing and online payments can save 6.6 pounds of paper and 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per household, per year.
  • When clients use online payments, they can keep their credit card on file and in some cases, automate payments entirely.

For your staff, you can add on some serious cost-saving benefits:  

  • If you go through the average amount of paper for a law firm in a year, reducing paper consumption could save you $1,000 per employee, per year.
  • Electronic invoicing alone can save companies $4–8 per invoice. With that in mind, a law firm with ten clients would save at least $480 per year by making the switch to paperless invoicing.
  • Paperless invoices save on additional office costs including ink, toner, pens, pencils, and other associated office equipment such as binders, staplers, and three-hole punches. It all adds up.   

For employees, another significant benefit is the ability to work from home. With the right software, attorneys and staff can work on a more flexible office model, which is still a high priority for many employees.   

Software like Tabs3 is an important component of this; Tabs3 Cloud allows legal professionals to handle billing and payment tasks from wherever they work, thanks to secure and reliable cloud-based software.   

These points all help underscore the importance of switching to a paperless system, and why they should embrace the change as well.  

2. Budget properly to avoid any surprises 

When you make the change to paperless invoicing, there will be a few start-up costs. You may need to digitize existing documents and set up your client portal, which can take time and require purchasing the appropriate equipment or hiring someone to handle the work for you.   

Once this is done, you won’t have to pay for paper or stamps anymore, but the billing software you use may have a surcharge or processing fee. Depending on your budget and pricing model, you may consider passing on the surcharging fee to clients to help manage your costs.   

These fees might be relatively low (and much lower than the cost of paper), but you never want to be surprised by unexpected costs.  

3. Communicate with clients well in advance 

Effective change communication requires exposure and repetition. Some clients may embrace a less paper-heavy process, but others may be resistant to or confused by the changes.   

To make the change to paperless invoicing as smooth as possible, take the following steps to ensure your clients are prepared:  

  • Send notices well in advance of the change explaining how processes will change, the timelines, and what to expect. 
  • Encourage clients to reach out if they have any questions or concerns. Create an FAQ section on your website or draft a blog about the benefits of these new processes.  
  • Include details about the electronic invoice process in any new client onboarding documentation.

Consider creating a marketing campaign around your new paperless invoicing philosophy. Leading up to the switch, create a few social media posts that help educate clients about what to expect. Email campaigns can be especially valuable in this context; craft a drip campaign with your legal client relationship management (CRM) software with reminders about timelines, processes, and how to get questions answered.   

Keep in mind that some clients may just be set in their ways and might insist on continuing with traditional invoice methods. It may benefit your firm to honor the billing preferences of legacy clients so you can preserve those relationships.  

4. Train your team on the new billing process 

It can be hard to navigate new processes and procedures even in the most intuitive systems. New features may have the potential to provide ease and flexibility, but if no one knows that the features exist or how to take advantage of them, you may not see the return on investment you’d like.  

For example, with Tabs3, law firms have the option to customize their online payments with many different features, including the ability to: 

  • Process multiple invoices via batch billing
  • Schedule automatic electronic prebills 
  • Create payment schedules from a single payment to a payment series 
  • Request trust deposits directly from the billing system 
  • Create custom rates for any timekeeper for any client 
  • Utilize alternative fee structures like contingency, split fee, flat fee, and retainers 
  • Link automated timekeeping to attach billable hours to a client’s invoice

But how do you turn those customizations from conceptual benefits to real-time advantages for your firm?   

The answer is simple: Training!  

Schedule training sessions for both new employees and veteran staff to ensure they can fully navigate the system and build the most efficient workflow. Consider offering additional training whenever a new system feature rolls out.  

Another option for Tabs3 users is to work with an experienced Tabs3 consultant. These software professionals know Tabs3 tools inside and out and can help you create a tailored onboarding and training program for your team.  

5. Solicit feedback from clients and employees 

No news is not always good news. It may not occur to someone to provide feedback, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings about the change to paperless invoicing.  

Actively solicit feedback to provide both your clients and your team an opportunity to adjust the process. By creating an open communication channel, you can improve your client relationships by demonstrating your commitment to their experience. You also give your employees the opportunity to change or update workflows if they identify potential pain points for your team.  

Make the change to paperless invoicing with Tabs3 Billing 

Tabs3 Billing has everything you need for an efficient and effective paperless billing process.  

To learn more about Tabs3 Billing and paperless invoicing features, sign up for a Tabs3 demo