The statewide eFileIL system requires credit card payment of all fees – standard court filing fees, credit card “convenience fees,” and service provider fees. For a smaller firm with less than 25 filings a month, this can be no issue but for large firms with hundreds of filings a month, reconciling eFiling charges on a firm credit card can cause such headaches and extra work that the firm might have to hire additional accounting staff.
Some electronic filing service provider (EFSPs) offer an alternative by providing monthly billing. This feature is offered at a premium price point by some EFSPs, while others offer this convenience as part of their standard service provider fee. By choosing an EFSP that offers monthly billing, the EFSP will front all fees and then bill the firm via monthly invoices, which can be a life saver for a large firm.
But, why is monthly billing a must for large law firms? An EFSP that provides monthly billing will help expedite the firm’s cost recovery for eFiling charges. In so doing, the EFSP will handle several time-consuming processes typically handled by the firm’s accounting staff. By taking these burdens off the firm, the EFSP allows the firm to save time and resources – and streamlines the firm’s client billing process.
To more clearly illustrate the benefits of monthly billing it might be easiest to think first about the process a firm uses to bill clients for eFiling without the benefit of monthly billing. The firm must provide a credit card account for all filings and court fees. For a firm that handles high-volume, complex litigation, hundreds of transactions can be eFiled each month. When the bill comes from the credit card company, there is no client matter number to match to the client for billing. Think about how much time this takes to reconcile when the credit card statement comes in the mail. Even with one card dedicated to nothing but eFiling, the task can be daunting and time-consuming.
Some EFSPs attempt to lighten the load by providing access to billing reports. However, if this is offered, an EFSP billing report may omit crucial details such as firm names, jurisdictions and case descriptions for eFiling transactions. The report may also show multiple rows with the same “envelope” number, making it difficult to decipher how to bill for those charges.
The result, the firm’s accounting staff spends several days each month trying to reconcile the credit card statement and converting the data into a format compatible with the firm’s billing system. Not only is this a cumbersome process, it also delays cost recovery for eFiling charges.
Conversely, finding an EFSP that offers monthly billing can streamline the process for the firm. The firm sets up a monthly billing account with the EFSP so that all eFiling and court fees are charged to the EFSP’s credit card, so the firm does not need to use its own dedicated credit card. At the end of the month, the EFSP receives a statement from the credit card company with the firm’s eFiling charges and the EFSP reconciles the credit card statement on behalf of the firm. The EFSP sends the firm an organized monthly invoice with all the details needed for billing clients for eFiling charges. Some EFSPs provide monthly invoices in multiple file formats for seamless loading into the firm’s accounting system.
Knowledge is power. With a little due diligence on which EFSP offers essential value-added services, such as monthly billing, the firm can fully utilize the efficiency of eFiling.
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