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5 Ways to Optimize Remote Work Time Tracking for Lawyers
by: Bill4Time of Bill4Time  -  
Tuesday, February 13, 2024

According to a national survey sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA), remote work options are becoming a must-have for many lawyers. 44% of surveyed individuals expressed a willingness to quit their current job if offered another with better remote work flexibility. Additionally, most participants prefer conducting pretrial hearings, depositions, and court-ordered mediations through remote means.

However, adapting to remote work setups presents unique obstacles, particularly when it comes to time tracking for lawyers. Unlike the structured office or court environment, working from home can blur the boundaries between professional and personal tasks, making it harder to track billable hours accurately. 

To address these issues, consider the five following strategies to promote efficiency and precision in remote-working routines.

Remote Work Time Tracking for Lawyers

1. Choose the Best Remote Employee Time Tracking Software

Time tracking software can make a huge difference with remote and hybrid work in your firm, but it’s not all created equal. Be sure to choose a solution with features that suit your team best, such as automated timers that can track hours. This capability is especially handy for lawyers working from different locations, ensuring accurate billing regardless of their work environment.

Additionally, the software should offer detailed time summaries. These reports are invaluable for identifying areas requiring extra support, helping to maintain consistent productivity levels across remote teams.

Billing and invoicing features are also valuable. Compiling hours and creating invoices can be time consuming, but legal software automatically creates and sends branded invoices. This process ensures your firm produces high quality, dependable invoices no matter where they are working.

2. Use a Work-From-Home Time Tracker App

Contemporaneous timekeeping is crucial to accurate, transparent billing. Too often, lawyers rely on memory and estimate hours after the fact, which can lead to over- or underbilling. According to the ABA, contemporaneous timekeeping is a “weak spot” for many lawyers. On average, lawyers lose 10% to 15% of their potential billable time because they can’t estimate accurately. If they wait until the next day, they lose about 25% of the time. By the end of the week, that adds up to about a 50% loss.

In this context, adopting a time tracker app becomes a strategic decision. When your workday includes remote working or court appearances, these apps are particularly useful. They capture every billable moment in real-time, ensuring that each minute of legal expertise is accounted for and billed accurately. High-quality time tracking software will usually come with a corresponding app, so you can easily log your time from the platform on your desktop or from the app on any device.

3. Develop Remote Work Time Tracking Guidelines

Standardized time tracking guidelines are important in any firm, but they are even more vital for hybrid and remote teams. No employee should wonder “how do I track my remote work hours?” and instead know the exact protocol. A remote work time tracking template is a good place to start, but implementing guidelines within time tracking software will offer the most consistency across your bills.

Overall, having clear time tracking guidelines can:

  • Promote Accuracy: Lawyers and staff may have their own differing methods for tracking time, which can cause inaccuracies. With guidelines, everyone is following the same process and the chances of more accurate time entries increases.
  • Create Uniform Data: Uniform data is fundamental for accurate reporting to evaluate your firm’s productivity. Standards for timekeeping ensure that your attorneys and staff give you apples-to-apples comparisons for timekeeping.
  • Build Standards for New Staff Training: When you have a standard in place for timekeeping, it’s much easier to train new staff and set clear expectations to ensure they know what they’re responsible for at the start.
  • Foster Transparency with Clients: When the details of billable hours are vague, your clients may not trust that they’re getting value out of their legal services. Clear timekeeping guidelines provide more detail about how lawyers should be billing.

4. Provide Training on How to Track Employee Hours Working from Home

Training shouldn’t end at new hires. In addition to guidelines, you should train your staff on why accurate timekeeping is important and best practices. Conduct regular training sessions with your staff — like how to manage time in remote work settings or ethical time tracking considerations — to keep everyone on the same page. If your time tracking reports indicate that you need to improve your processes, training sessions offer an opportunity to update your staff on these changes and explain them.

5. Combine Time Tracking with Practice Management Software

Work-from-home tracking software for time is only one factor in law firm productivity. It should integrate within a broader legal case management platform to streamline your remote workflows and improve your firm’s time tracking accuracy. Here’s how:

Offers a Comprehensive Overview of Cases and Time Spent

Data requires context for interpretation. A comprehensive legal practice management platform is particularly beneficial for remote teams, as it provides a comprehensive overview of all staff activities, cases, and the time allocated to both billable and non-billable tasks. With a broad view like this, you can evaluate areas of good productivity and any opportunities for improvement.

Helps with Resource Allocation

Time tracking data can identify over- or under-utilized resources, allowing you to optimize your firm’s efficiency. With this clear view, you can allocate your resources — remote and in-person — more efficiently according to project timelines and available staff.

Assists with Prioritizing Tasks

For law firms operating remotely, clear visibility into outstanding tasks is particularly valuable. It allows you to prioritize critical projects, like urgent cases needing extensive staff involvement, and effectively plan for other tasks. This clarity is vital for remote teams, where physical distance can sometimes lead to communication gaps or coordination challenges. By having a clear understanding of the priority level of each project, you can develop a more effective course of action for managing the remaining workload.

Enhances Collaboration Across Remote Teams

Collaboration can be a challenge across remote teams. Legal practice management platforms improve collaboration by giving all staff members a view of the shared project and their individual responsibilities. Staff can receive updates on relevant tasks and share questions or insights easily through the software’s messaging and chat features.

This article was authored by Allison Lemasters.

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