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Why Systematic Time Tracking for Lawyers is a Must in Every Modern Law Firm
by: Bill4Time of Bill4Time  -  
Monday, April 10, 2023

In today’s fast-paced and dynamic legal industry, time is more valuable than ever before. As a law firm’s book of business grows, it becomes increasingly important for lawyers to track their time accurately and efficiently. This is why firms should incorporate systematic time tracking for lawyers.

Systematic time tracking is any time tracking system accessible in one place, whether digital, a software, or on a network. Ensuring all time tracking is done in the same software increases the clarity of the records. Using the same time tracking system across your firm allows you to see the work being done in real time, not divorced from other platforms, and in a format any staff member can understand.

Law firms can benefit from systematic time tracking because of the increased efficiency, productivity, transparency, and client trust and satisfaction it provides when done successfully. On the other side of the coin, law firms without a reliable and consistent time tracking process leave themselves at risk for billing disputes, and missing out on billable hours due to simple mistakes.

Systematic time tracking allows anyone at your firm to track time quickly, from anywhere, and in the same structured format. Below, we outline some of the benefits and ways to start systematic time tracking for lawyers.

Benefits of Systematic Time Tracking

While time tracking for lawyers may seem like it is purely administrative, there are also quantifiable reasons to incorporate this process into daily tasks for your law firm. With lawyers working long hours to keep up with client demand, it’s essential to track time spent on each task accurately. Let’s explore these benefits in depth.

Boost your Firm’s Efficiency

There are quite a few ways that law firms can boost their efficiency, systematic time tracking may be the simplest way to do so. As managers, understanding what takes the most time and what’s most profitable for your firm can help you delegate tasks in the future — allowing you to focus on what’s most important to your firm.

Increase Staff Productivity

Additionally, for those that manage law firms, systematic time tracking can help you get the most out of your staff and increase the firm’s overall productivity. As managers review work reports from time sheets, there’s an opportunity to evaluate productivity levels.

Are staff able to complete tasks within a scheduled timeframe? What changes could be implemented to increase productivity? These questions can help managers assess staff performance as business increases, reducing bottlenecks and increasing productivity.

Provide Transparent Billing to Clients

When firms can accurately bill and back up their work with detailed reports, they have an easier time billing. Having the ability to provide records of time spent and details on those tasks on an invoice, helps foster trust between firms and their clients. When clients trust firms, they are more likely to pay their invoices in full, and in a timely manner.

Firms that keep a clear and organized record of work completed and by who that work was done can bill clients with transparency and confidence in their billing process.

Maintain Cost-Effective Practices

Instead of having a million different ways of time tracking across your firm, uniting staff to use one helpful time tracking software can save time and money reducing the risk of billing disputes, lost billable hours, and administrative costs.

Risks of Manual Time Tracking

While there are many benefits of time tracking for lawyers, there are also risks associated with not keeping a solid record of your firm’s billable hours. Manual time tracking can be extremely unorganized, leaving your firm at risk of losing potential billable time, high administrative costs, and more. Manual time tracking can be anything from scribbling on a piece of paper, trying to master Microsoft Excel, or even keeping track of your time mentally.

Without keeping an organized and clear record of billable hours, you can leave your firm vulnerable to billing disputes, high administrative costs, and other risks that cost your firm money.

Losing Billable Time (and Revenue)

Law firm profitability is top-of-mind for many partners and managers. One of the easiest ways to lose revenue is to not bill for hours worked. Seems simple, right? However, it’s estimated firms may lose up to 10% of their billable time if they wait until the end of the day to record it, according to the American Bar Association. If they wait days — that number could jump up to 25%. A quarter of your revenue could be lost due to a lack of organization.

Vulnerability to Billing Disputes

What happens when a client disputes an invoice? If firms don’t keep a coordinated record of what’s been worked on and done, how can they ethically bill a client? If firms get billing disputes and can’t find accurate records of work done, client trust is lost and word can spread quickly — ultimately costing your firm money either in litigation or time.

High Administrative Costs

The billing process can take up a large portion of time that could be spent doing more productive (or lucrative) tasks. With each record needing to be sorted through and billed directly to the client, this process can take weeks if it’s done manually. Without using an effective time tracking software, you may have to pay high administrative costs to keep up-to-date on client billing and getting your firm paid on time.

Decreased Client Experience

Losing a client’s trust often means the end of a working professional relationship. With inaccurate or unreliable time tracking for lawyers, clients may not be billed properly, work can get lost, or tasks may not be finished in time, leading to late work and potentially lost cases. Time is of the essence for you and your clients. The best way to respect a client’s time spent working with you is to accurately track yours so they feel as comfortable as possible using your services now and in the future.

How to Start Systematic Time Tracking

Luckily, implementing processes that keep time can be as easy as incorporating software into your firm’s operations. You can start by getting organized and take into account the benefits and risks mentioned earlier. Whether you’re new to time tracking completely or just now implementing it into your firm, it’s never too late to start.

What to Look for in Digital Time Tracking Software

There’s a lot to look for in your digital time tracking software to make sure it’s the best fit for your law firm. Some key features may include reporting, task management, customer support, billing and invoicing, expense tracking, online payments and more. The more your digital time tracking software can do, the better your law firm can focus on your clients, taking advantage of the time you get back.

Track Time Across Devices

With today’s fast-paced work environment, having access to your time tracking software from anywhere can be crucial to maintaining accurate records.

Online Payments

The more ways you offer your clients to pay your firm, the more likely you are to get paid.

Ease of Use

Law firms commonly don’t have the luxury of time with pressing deadlines and client matters. Time wasted trying to learn software that should be intuitive isn’t worth the effort. 

Customer/Software Support

If any issues arise with your time tracking software, you want to have a team that has your firm’s back. 

Carole Poster authored this article.

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