A lawyer’s work involves a complex mix of tasks beyond serving clients, including meetings, calls, and emails.
Some tasks are billable, while others are not. How do lawyers track billable hours?
Lawyers keep track of their time in different ways, either using traditional strategies such as calendars, emails, phone calls, and Excel sheets or through digital methods such as the use of time-tracking software.
How do lawyers keep track of billable hours? 5 Traditional strategies
Billable hours, as per US Legal, refer to time worked on business matters chargeable to clients at an agreed rate.
Lawyers typically handle this task, but it can be complex due to juggling multiple cases and distinguishing billable from non-billable hours.
To prevent over or underbilling, lawyers use various techniques for tracking billable hours.
Entering tasks and hours manually on a calendar for daily, weekly, or monthly tracking is a commonly used but labor-intensive and error-prone method.
2. Email service
Law firms often manage cases through email flow, reviewing daily emails to track hours spent on clients.
While emails have timestamps, this method may not be precise, as it can miss tasks without email communication.
3. Day in review
Law firms sometimes rely on memory to jot down tasks, but it’s an inefficient method due to human memory limitations.
4. Phone calls
Similar to the email method, using timestamps for phone calls has limitations.
It’s not comprehensive since a workday involves various tasks. It can serve as a supplementary tracking method alongside other tools.
5. Excel sheets
A faster method for tracking billable hours, but it’s manual and memory-dependent, which can lead to errors if hours aren’t recorded immediately after each task.
Disadvantages of using the “traditional” billable hours tracking techniques
1. Under (or over) billing the clients
Due to the manual nature of these techniques, there’s a risk of either undercounting or overcounting working hours.
Underbilling means the lawyer isn’t fully compensated while overbilling can lead to loss of clients and cases, which is more severe.
2. Too much time spent registering tasks and hours
Manual time tracking is time-consuming and can become an additional task, which is not recommended, especially for lawyers with more critical responsibilities.
Avoiding this manual effort is the ideal scenario.
3. Only one technique isn’t enough for a complete analysis
Relying on a single traditional time-tracking method isn’t sufficient for a comprehensive view of tasks and hours.
Combining them for a complete report is an option, but not the most efficient one.
Traditional techniques are free and simple but highly time-consuming, which can be a challenge for demanding jobs like lawyers.
Optimization of administrative tasks is essential for efficiency.
Time tracking: the best method to track billable hours
Time tracking is crucial for attorneys on hourly fee arrangements. Using a time-tracking app makes it easier. With this app, you can:
- Track every hour or minute of your workday with a click.
- Segment clients for easy assignment of billable hours.
- Generate reports for analyzing and optimizing your time.
- Ensure you bill accurately and get the compensation you deserve.
Billing hours is easier with time tracking
Hourly fees remain the norm for lawyers, but it’s time to modernize time tracking.
Digital time-tracking apps could help lawyers bill accurately while freeing up time for essential tasks. If you’re skeptical, why not give it a try and see for yourself?
Q: What are the benefits of using a time-tracking app for lawyers?
A: There are a number of benefits to using a time-tracking app for lawyers, including:
- Accuracy: Time-tracking apps are designed to be accurate, so lawyers can be confident that their billable hours are being recorded correctly.
- Efficiency: Time-tracking apps automate the time-tracking process, freeing up lawyers’ time to focus on other tasks.
- Completeness: Time-tracking apps capture all billable hours, even if lawyers forget to record their time manually.
- Reporting: Time-tracking apps generate detailed reports that can help lawyers identify areas to improve their efficiency and productivity.
Q: What are some common mistakes that lawyers make when tracking billable hours?
Some common mistakes that lawyers make when tracking billable hours include:
- Not tracking their time accurately: Lawyers may forget to track their time altogether, or they may only track their time in general terms. This can lead to underbilling or overbilling clients.
- Not tracking non-billable hours: Lawyers should track both billable and non-billable hours so that they can get a complete picture of their time usage. This can help them to identify areas where they can be more efficient.
- Not using a time tracking app: Time tracking apps can help lawyers avoid the mistakes listed above. However, some lawyers are reluctant to use time-tracking apps because they think they are too complicated or time-consuming.
Q: How can lawyers improve their efficiency and productivity using time-tracking apps?
A: Time-tracking apps can help lawyers to improve their efficiency and productivity in a number of ways, including:
- Identifying areas where time is being wasted: Time-tracking apps can generate detailed reports that show lawyers how they are spending their time. This can help lawyers to identify areas where they can be more efficient, such as by reducing the amount of time they spend on non-billable tasks.
- Setting realistic goals: Once lawyers have identified areas where they can be more efficient, they can use time-tracking apps to set realistic goals for themselves. This can help them to stay on track and make progress over time.
- Eliminating distractions: Time-tracking apps can help lawyers to eliminate distractions by reminding them to stay focused on their current task. This can help lawyers to get more done in less time.
Q: What are the best time-tracking apps for lawyers in 2023?
A: Some of the best time-tracking apps for lawyers in 2023 include:
- Rocket Matter
These apps offer a wide range of features, including automatic time tracking, task management, invoicing, and reporting.
They are all designed to be easy to use and to help lawyers save time and money.