Solicitors 'too slow' in taking fees

SOLICITORS are too slack about collecting fees, say their financial directors.

The indictment comes after the release of a study that says law firms could save millions of pounds a year by reducing their bank interest charges through better management of work in progress and credit control.

According to the latest study from the Centre for Interfirm Comparison, supported by the Law Society, an improvement in firms' financial management could save the profession £40m a year in interest charges and provide an additional £500m in working capital.

Those firms that admit to problems with credit control claim that the blame lies with the partners. Philip Mitchell, practice director at London firm Finers, said: “Solicitors are sometimes more concerned about getting work from clients and doing the work than collecting fees.”

Mark Feeney, financial controller at Shoosmiths & Harrison, which has offices stretching from Nottingham to Southampton, said: “There is a great unwillingness from solicitors to embrace the commercial side of the business. We have our credit black spots but are aware of the problem.”

Many of the large City firms denied any problems with their credit control. John Oliver, finance director at national practice Eversheds, said: “The information cited in this report is completely out of touch with City practices. We have a special credit control department and our figures do not match with those presented in this report.”

Kevin Mortell, director of finance at Denton Hall, said: “It is a fairly simplistic approach to say that the quicker you bill for the money the better. Billing in advance is sometimes not appropriate.”