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Matter Billing: Contingency Fee Workflow

Contingency Fee Matters are available to subscribers of our Legacy, Boutique, and Elite plans.

You can upgrade to the Boutique or Elite plan in the app, or if you’re interested in seeing how this feature can work for your law firm feel free to contact us by email or give us a call at 1-888-858-2546 (choose option #1).

In Clio, you can specify a contingency fee percentage on a Matter and the award or settlement amount won at the completion of the case. You are then able to generate a bill to provide to your client and you can receive payment from the award in trust. 

The following steps describe a sample contingency fee Matter workflow in Clio. 


Creating a Contingency Fee Matter
Using Document Automation to Generate a Contingency Fee Agreement
Tracking Time Entries
Tracking Expenses
Recording the Settlement or Award Details
Adding the Award to Trust
Generating the Bill
Receiving Payment from Trust
Disbursing the Remaining Award to the Client

Creating a Contingency Fee Matter

When creating or editing a Matter, you can specify the contingency recipient and percentage rate in the Matter Billing section of the Matter creation form.

For more information about creating Matters, click HERE

Once the rate is specified, and a Contingency Fee Matter is created, you will see an Update Award button at the upper right.

Once you select Update Award, you will be able to input the expected award amount, or change the percentage that your firm will earn from that amount.

Once the Award is applied and a Bill is generated, the Update Award button will be removed.

Using Document Automation to Generate a Contingency Fee Agreement

Once you have specified a Matter to have a contingency fee, you are able to use contingency fee related merge field tags when generating documents through Clio's Document Automation feature. In particular, you can add the << Matter.Contingency_fee_rate >> tag to your contingency fee agreement template to automatically pull in the agreed upon percentage rate from your Matter. 

For more information about using Document Automation and creating document templates, click HERE

Tracking Time Entries

On a Matter with a contingency fee, all hourly time entries that you add will automatically have a rate of $0 (this will overwrite your Activity Description rates). Flat fee time entries will still display an amount but you can manually zero out this rate if you do not want it to be recorded on the Matter. Adding $0 time entries allow you to continue to track and report on the time that you spend working on the Matter without adding to the amount that will be billed to the client at the completion of the Matter. 

Tracking Expenses

On a Matter with a contingency fee, you will track expenses as usual. If you are tracking medical expenses that the firm will be paying on behalf of the client, make sure to add the name of the medical vendor or clinic to the expense's "Note" field. You can then filter the expenses by vendor using the Filter keyword "Search" field. 

Recording the Settlement or Award Details

At the completion of the Matter, if an award or settlement has been won, you can add the details of the award by clicking on the "Update Award" button on the Matter's detail page.

In the "Update Contingency Award" window, add the full amount of the award won and the fee earned will be calculated automatically. You can also specify the date of the award and add any notes or details that you would like to display on the client's bill. 

Once you have saved the contingency award details, the fee earned will appear on the "Time" sub-tab of the Matter. 

You can update the details of the award at any time by clicking the "Update Award" button until the Matter has been billed, at which time the "Update Award" button will no longer be available.  

Adding the Award to Trust

If you will be receiving the amount of the award in trust for the client, you should record a deposit under the Matter's Transactions tab.

Once you have selected "Add", you will be shown the New Transaction window. Input the appropriate information for your deposit of funds.

Select "Record Transaction" and you will see the your client's trust account reflect the new balance.

For more information on how to record a trust transaction in Clio, click HERE.  

Generating the Bill

When you are ready to generate a bill for your client to report on the contingency fee, you will generate the bill as usual. Once the bill has been generated, you can edit the line items on the bill while it is in the Draft state. The time entries will already have a rate of $0. However, the amounts of your expenses will still appear on the bill. If you will not be charging expenses to your client, you have a few options to zero out those expense amounts:

  1. You can apply a 100% discount to the expense item which will display the original amount of the expense but reduce the total to $0.
  2. You can manually change the amount of the expense to $0. As long as you do not select the "Update original record" option, then the original expense amount will not be altered on the Matter, only on the bill.
  3. You can delete the expense line item. Deleting the expense will make it available to be billed at a later time.
  4. You can leave the expense line items as they are and write off that amount after you have received payment on the bill for the amount of the contingency fee. 
    For more information on writing off the balance of a bill, click HERE

Once you are ready to approve the Draft invoice, select "Actions" at the upper right, and from the drop-down select "Approve".

For more information on working with bills in general, view the following articles:

How do I create a bill?
How do I edit a bill? 
Can I add or remove line items from my bill?

Receiving Payment from Trust

Once you have approved the client's bill, you can immediately receive payment from the award funds that you are holding in trust. To do so, click "Record Payment" at the top of the invoice.

You will now see the New Bill Payment window. Input the appropriate information, such as the account you are withdrawing funds from.

Once you select "Receive Payment" and the invoice is paid, you will see your client's trust account has adjusted appropriately.

For more information on receiving payments in Clio, click HERE

Disbursing the Remaining Award to the Client

Once you have received payment to trust, you must disburse the remaining amount to the client.

After entering the disbursement, the invoice will also be updated.

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