7 Time Tracking Issues and How Lawyers Can Solve Them
Many attorneys are overwhelmed or challenged by the need to track billable hours efficiently. Doing this incorrectly can damage the client experience, lead to ethical problems, and have a big negative impact on your profits.
Those are only some of the issues. Let’s look at seven common time-tracking problems and how lawyers can easily solve them.
1. Waiting until later to record
This is issue Numero 1. According to the American Bar Association, lawyers who wait until the end of the day to record their time lose 10–15% of their billable hours, and those who wait until the end of the week lose 25%.
Losing that level of billable hours amounts to thousands of dollars per attorney, per week, for your firm (a.k.a. unacceptable).
The problem is understandable. If a lawyer is keeping track in Microsoft Excel or—dare we say!—by hand—they will have to record manually in six-minute increments, which can add up to dozens of entries.
What’s more, if a lawyer knows a quick call is about to take place, laziness (or excessive kindness) may take over, leading them to not even jot down the valuable time spent.
The solution is simple. Firms increasingly see a tech spend as essential to their budget—a 2022 study by Bloomberg Law found that 48% of legal professionals say their organizations had increased their overall tech spend in the prior 12 months. With an investment in an automated legal time tracker, lawyers just need to click start and stop when they like.
Bonus! With the right time-tracking software, billable hours are seamlessly integrated with invoicing, cutting down on the time you need to bill clients. Just double-check your invoice, click send, and you’re done.
2. “We use alternative fees”
Another common problem in legal billing is that the practice of billable hours has decreased over the years with more firms seeking flat and alternative fee structures. Not that the billable hour has met its demise, but it now shares the stage with other strategies for getting paid.
But be careful—don’t let the rise of the alternative fee lead you to believe your firm doesn’t need to track your hours.
When every lawyer at your firm tracks the time they spend on tasks for a particular client, you can analyze how many hours were devoted to the project, helping you:
- Accurately plan and bill for similar future projects
- Adjust prices
- Discontinue unprofitable services
3. Measuring time for multiple clients at once
Here’s a major issue. Say you’re working on writing a brief for a corporate client while a healthcare client calls. How do you keep track of work on both?
Legal-specific time-tracking software not only lets you name each project you’re working on (and add the proper LEDES code), but it also lets you use multiple timers. Start and stop each one as you like. Problem solved.
4. Lawyers who are on the go
Say you’re at court, filing a brief, and get a call from a client that takes 10 minutes. You jot down the time on a trusty legal pad or sticky note. But you know you might forget this ever happened by the time you’re back at your desk, and the record of time worked gets buried at the bottom of your briefcase.
These situations prevent attorneys from capturing the full scope of their billable hours.
The solution is a time-tracking mobile app that integrates with the same desktop time-tracking software. (Check that the software works for iPhone and Android, because lawyers at your firm might use either one.)
With a mobile app, lawyers need only click stop and go on their mobile device, and the hours are captured.
5. Running afoul of ethics
ABA and state bar rules prohibit lawyers from charging clients unfair fees for services.
Not that you would on purpose. However, if you’re recording with pen and paper later in the day, mistakes are possible and a “5” minutes could turn into a “50.” In turn, when a client looks at their invoice, they may look askance.
Firm-wide, that could add up, which would be a real headache to deal with.
But automated time-tracking software eliminates the problem of manual note-taking errors. Electronic time-tracking is also an easier experience, leading to less stress, less head spinning, and less likelihood of committing an error.
(Nor does a lawyer have to worry about 6-minute increment tracking because time-tracking software tracks all of that automatically. )
6. Converting hours to invoicing
No lawyer wants this manual work. The more the task of transferring billable hours to invoices is automated for them, the more they can be productive with their time by spending it on meatier matters.
Just as tedious without a tech solution is sending individual invoices to multiple clients.
The solution to both problems is time-tracking software integrated with billing software that can process and convert billable hours and tracked expenses into invoices with just a few clicks. No matter how many invoices you need to send, you can shave hours off your billing processes.
Bonus: the right integrated software solution can automatically schedule electronic prebills, create current automatic bill and payment plans, send out PDF invoices in just a few clicks, and get your firm paid faster—in as little as 12 hours.
7. “Do I have to pay for expense management, too?”
You may be dealing with billable hours piling up and want to make an investment in time-tracking software and then wonder: “Would I need to purchase separate expense-tracking software?”
The solution: a time-tracking software that incorporates expense management.
So when you’re out on client work and have a lunch to comp, just enter the receipt info on your mobile app and it will be integrated with the system at Rocket Matter. The software’s expense management is integrated with QuickBooks so you’ve got all the angles covered.
When it’s time to invoice a client, your expenses will be there alongside hours worked.
Solve all time-tracking issues with Rocket Matter
Rocket Matters’ legal time-tracking software seamlessly solves each one of the seven problems listed above. With Rocket Matter, in addition to tracking time, you can:
- Process invoices
- Accept online payments
- Manage trust accounts
- Use intuitive organization tools
- Streamline operations with a practice management solution
Let Rocket Matter help your firm—whether small, medium, or large—to adapt to an easy, fully-integrated time-tracking software tool.
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