Billing Settings

Created by Allison Cloyd, Modified on Tue, 17 Jan 2023 at 10:38 PM by Kylie Mitchell

In this article, you will learn how to configure your billing settings. This screen will have different options available to different users based on what plan they are on. All sections will be available in Actionstep's Practice Pro + Accounting plan. 


Finding your billing settings

Billing Settings, as the name suggests, determines how billing functions within your system. To access the billing settings, navigate to:

Admin -> Billing 

 

Participant Type Setup


NOTE: This section is not available in Express systems.

 

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Responsible Lawyer: Actionstep is a very user-configurable system so we need help knowing what participant type you would like to be configured as the 'Responsible lawyer'. This role has special functionality in Actionstep for things like fee allocation and reporting. Typically, it is the person who is responsible for the overall outcome of the case.

Every billable Matter type should have this participant type configured.


TIP: When there is no participant defined for a particular Matter then it will fall back to the assigned-to participant as the Responsible lawyer.


 

If you have more than one contact loaded against this role on your matter, then the first person loaded will be the Responsible lawyer. For example, if the responsible lawyer field is set to the role 'Partner' and a matter has both Mary and Rob assigned to the Partner role on it, then Mary will be the responsible lawyer as she is the first contact loaded to that role.

 

Alias: This setting allows you to define the term Actionstep uses when referring to the 'Responsible lawyer'. For example, you may have a Supervising Partner allocated to each Matter and you could use the term "Supervising Partner" rather than the responsible lawyer. 

 

From the example above the Lawyer on the matter parties (the first name listed) will be considered the responsible lawyer for fee allocation and reporting. 


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If no Lawyer is added to the list of parties the responsible lawyer will revert to the assigned to which can be found by going to the matter - and clicking on the little (i) next to the matter name. 

 

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Client Receipt

 

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In this section, you can choose defaults that will be applied when you go to process a payment against a bill you have sent to a client. Users will still be able to choose other values when making the transaction but by correctly populating this section, you will speed up the entry of these transactions.

 

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Hourly Invoices

 

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Matters can be billed using either a fixed fee or an hourly fee billing arrangement. In this section, you choose what default will be applied to the way a matter is billed when an hourly billing arrangement is applied to a matter. There is an identical section for fixed fee invoices below.


OptionDescription
Default description for an increase in feesAs you create a bill in Actionstep you can choose to increase your fees from the value that has been recorded against the matter so far. When you do this, you have the option to create a new fee record to account for the increase. The 'Default description for an increase in fees' will populate that fee entries description.
Default description for discountSimilar to the increased field above, when you apply a discount to the fees on an invoice you can choose what the default description for that discount will appear to the user. You can change this to "Our discount to you:" for example.
If WIP less than quote

This field is used when you mass bill a matter. Using Actionstep's mass billing, you can move all the WIP that is loaded against a matter into draft invoices in bulk as one quick process. 

In this field, you choose what will happen if the WIP (the unbilled fees on the matter - the work in progress) is more than the quoted amount on the matter. The quoted amount is a field populated on the billing options - Matter Billing Options screen. If the WIP is less than the amount that has been entered into the Estimate field, you can choose to:

  • Ignore the Estimate amount and bill the WIP only
  • Ignore the WIP amount, and bill the Estimate amount only
  • Add the Estimate amount to the WIP to bill both.

Users are able to change this setting on a matter-by-matter basis on the Matter billing options Matter Billing Options screen.

If WIP greater than quoteThis field works exactly the same as the 'If WIP less than quote' field (see immediately above). The only difference is choosing what will happen when the WIP recorded is more than the estimate or quoted amount on the matter.
Fee reductions

This field sets how a discount or fee reduction on an invoice should be treated when the invoice is mass billed. 'Appear as a discount' will ensure that the bill to the client includes a line that states a discount was given and how much it was. An example of what this could look like on an invoice is below (this does depend on how your invoice template has been set up). 

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'Hide line pricing and show total only' will still list each fee record in the bill and all its details except the amount for that time. This way there will not be a discrepancy when adding up the individual items and comparing them to the total fees. An example of how this could look an on invoice is below.

 

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Include the value of 'Hide' and 'No charge' time when calculating fee allocation

Each fee record in Actionstep can be set to 'Bill' to bill the time, 'Hide' to not show the time record in the bill at all, or 'No charge' to let the time record show in the bill but have no billable value to it.

In this field, you can choose if the time which is marked as 'Hide' and 'No charge' will count towards a fee earners fee allocation for that bill or not. 

Some might not want to consider fee allocation for fees/time that has no billable value, in which case they should leave it unticked. However, some firms recognize that while the fees did not increase the bill they did contribute to the value and effort to produce the bill so they tick the box to allow fee allocation to take into account those 'Hide' and 'No charge' fees.

Allocate adjustments

An adjustment to an invoice is an increase or reduction in the fees that are being charged when compared to the WIP on the invoice. 

This field lets you choose how that reduction or increase in fees should be allocated. You can choose to allocate them to the responsible lawyer (used when the gains or losses on an invoice can be attributed to the responsible lawyer) or to pro-rate the amount among the fee earners on the bill.

For example, if you use the 'Based on fees entered' option on an invoice in which 3 fee earners recorded $300 each and had a $300 discount, then each fee earner contributed one-third so the discount will be divided by three and applied to each. In this case, each fee earner will get a total fee allocation of $200.

 

An example of these time entries in an invoice in the above example:- 

 

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An example of what this looks like is in the fee allocation report once the invoice has been paid - more information about the fee allocation report can be found here -Fee Allocation Report

 

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Bill template

This will select the default template that will be applied to any invoice generated from a matter set to the Hourly invoice billing arrangement. This can still be changed on a matter by matter basis or an invoice by invoice basis.

Email template

This will select the default email template that will be applied to any invoice generated and sent from a matter set to the Hourly invoice billing arrangement. This can still be changed on a matter by matter basis or an invoice by invoice matter.

Default time entry behavior

Each fee record in Actionstep can be set to 'Bill' to bill the time, 'Hide' to not show the time record in the bill at all, or 'No charge' to let the time record show in the bill but have no billable value to it. Again, this is a default for the most heavily used option but can be changed on a case-by-case basis. 

 

Fixed Fee Invoices

Matters can be billed using either a fixed fee or an hourly fee billing arrangement. In this section, you choose what default will be applied to the way a matter is billed when a fixed fee billing arrangement is applied to a matter. There is an identical section for hourly invoices above.

Please see the explanations in the section immediately above for more details.

 

Custom Bill Templates


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In this section, you will be able to edit existing bill templates or upload new ones. 

If you do not have any custom invoice templates you can access the Built-in Actionstep Invoice templates by clicking on Create new custom bill template button the Actionstep templates will then show on the right of the screen and you can click on them to download them.

 

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If you wish to make changes to an Actionstep template you can do this in word and then upload the new template to Actionstep to use - more instructions can be found here: Invoice Templates

To upload a new custom bill template click the blue create new custom bill template button.

To edit a custom invoice template click on the invoice template name and then download the document on the right.

 

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Bill templates are based on a word document with text and a number of different merge fields that Actionstep uses to pull information from your matter and bill to customize the layout of your bill. 

 

TIP: You can customize these yourself but please be aware that bill templates are complicated document templates and we recommend reaching out to one of the Certified Consulting Partners to assist with creating invoice templates. 

 

Timekeeper Fee Allocation

 

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Default fee allocation for matters: This allows you to choose the default configuration of how fees are allocated between timekeepers.

By setting this to 'Pro-rate',  the fee allocation will be set based on how much a fee earner has contributed to the value of an invoice. For example, a lawyer who contributes 25% of the value of the bill, will get 25% of the fee allocation (though other settings can also affect this). 

By setting this to 'All to Responsible lawyer', then all fees, regardless of other fee earners that contributed to the bill, will be allocated to the Responsible lawyer.

Some firms will create separate income accounts in their Accounting General Ledger for specific fee earners or the teams that they belong to. You can click on the Edit timekeeper fee income accounts button to be able to see a list of all system users and to set an income account against each.

 

 

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Taxes

 

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A simple toggle for enabling/disabling taxes. Once switched on you can choose to tax new matters by default, the default tax rate, and if those sales taxes should be applied to fees and expenses or just one of those options. Again, this is the default and can be changed on a matter-by-matter basis. 

The tax codes and rates should be set correctly for your system based on your region. If they are not, they can be updated in your accounting settings (or the settings of your accounting integration software).

 

Invoice Defaults

 

This section is available in all versions of Actionstep but the fields in the section will vary. The "Default payment terms', 'Payment terms' and 'Next invoice number' will not appear in Express systems.

 

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In this section, you can set some defaults to how your bills or invoices will behave in Actionstep

 

Invoice defaultsDescription
Default payment terms

Will set the payment terms that will be applied to your bills by default. For example, if you set this to 7 days you are asking the client to pay the bill within 7 days of the bill being sent to them. 

Below 'Default payment terms', you can see the different types of payment terms you can apply. It is possible to create a new payment term or click and edit an existing payment term but it does require understanding some computer coding to achieve. Reach out to our support team if you want help with this.

Next invoice numberThis will set what number the next invoice you create in Actionstep will have. If you have previously increased the number in this field you are able to reduce it again but it will let you use the same number twice.
Default additional notes

Every bill you create in Actionstep will have a section on it called 'Additional notes' that you can populate to insert a message into the PDF bill that you send to your client. This section allows you to populate that field by default. 

Use this section if you want to add a message to your bills such as payment details or your Law Society compliance text. You can still customize the additional notes field on each individual matter. 

 

Default Income Accounts

 

This section is available in all versions of Actionstep, however, if you are on the Actionstep Express or Practice Pro plans and have chosen not to integrate with an accounting partner such as QuickBooks Online or Xero, you will not see this section.

 

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The default ledger accounts that these invoice items will be posted to. 

These are defaults but can be changed on matter or invoice level. 

 

General Retainer

 

General retainers are not available in all regions and some Accounting integrations do not accommodate general retainers. You will not see this section if you are outside of the US or if your Actionstep is configured to a third-party accounting system.

 

 

WARNING: Please note this is not a Trust Retainer. It is an operating/ general retainer.

 

 

 

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Allows you to enable general retainers within the system. When you enable the option, you will have more options to configure.

OptionDescription
Liability accountThis is the account in your general ledger that Actionstep will need to know to be able to process your general retainers. The default chart of accounts in Actionstep will come with a General Retainer Liability account for you to map to.
To PayIf you have funds in a general retainer for a matter, they will be applied to any new charges that you create (new bills) for that matter
Payment automationYou can choose to pay invoices automatically as you create them from any available funds in the general retainer. If you choose the 'Manual' option you can still apply payments from the retainer as you produce a bill but this will have to be manually entered.

 

Trust Accounting

 

This section is available in all version of Actionstep, however, some parts of this section will only show in Practice Pro and Practice Pro + Accounting. Express users will not see the options 'To pay', 'Payment automation' and 'Combine multiple payments by'.

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These settings will determine how trust funds are applied against bills.


OptionDescription
To PayIf you have funds in trust for a matter, they can be applied to any new charges that you create (new bills) for that matter.
Payment Automation

You can choose to pay invoices automatically as you create them from any available funds in trust. If you choose the 'Manual' option you can still apply payments from the trust as you produce a bill but this will have to be manually entered.

 

WARNING: Some jurisdictions do not allow you to process a payment from trust against a bill until a number of days have passed. If you fall under such restrictions, then you will not be able to apply a trust payment to an invoice either manually or automatically.
 
Combine multiple payments byYou are able to combine payments from different matters as long as the trust bank account that the payment comes from is the same.
Statement on the billAs you produce a bill in Actionstep, that bill might be configured to show trust account transactions on it. In this field, you can set if the transactions shown should be all trust transactions for that matter, or just the transactions that have occurred since the matter was last invoiced. 

 

Rate Labels

 

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In this section, you can create and customize the rates that you apply to fees or time records. You can create rates that are on a per-hourly basis or for a fixed amount.

A list of each of the rate labels in your system will be displayed. Click on the name of an existing rate label to be able to edit it.

You can create a new rate label by clicking the create new rate label button.

 

See more information here:  Rate Labels

 

Expense / Disbursement Templates

In this section, you can create templates for the expenses that you enter into Actionstep. By creating a template you can speed up the entry of an expense. See more information here: Disbursements

 

LEDES Defaults

LEDES billing (also known as UTBMS) is where the items in a bill are assigned to a pre-set list of tasks based on the activity, what it is for and who is doing it.  This system is a requirement for some clients who use this method to compare the amounts they are billed from multiple lawyers.

 

Other Settings

Assign Invoice No. To Drafts: When enabled, DRAFT invoices will be allocated an Invoice Number. When disabled they will show as 'DRAFT' until approved.

 

Historic Data

This setting prevents time/fee entries and expenses/disbursements that were created before a set date from being billed.

 

 

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