How Attorneys Should Track Their Time
Who even has the time to read this post?
It’s not like you have spare billable hours to just waste away reading blog posts.
However, this one post may just save you not only time but thousands of dollars or more.
That’s because it’s about how to more efficiently log your billable hours so you stop losing track of them.
Here’s the thing—if every lawyer at your firm loses track of just ten billable hours a month, and if that lawyer’s rate is $200 per hour, your firm is missing out on $24,000 per lawyer per year.
Let’s repeat: that’s if a lawyer loses track of just ten billable hours per month.
And it’s more common than you think. In fact, many lawyers forget more than that. 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%.
Missing out on those billable hours causes a major issue—for the lawyer who may be in danger of losing their job for not having enough billable hours and for your firm, which needs to grow and counts on client-paid time for revenue.
Missing hours also comes down to an accuracy problem. For example, if your firm doesn’t accurately know each lawyer’s billable hours, you cannot accurately evaluate associates. If you don’t monitor how much time you spend on flat-rate projects, how do you know if your rates are profitable?
So, how do on-their-game lawyers track their time? Let’s get into it.
8 tips for taking advantage of automatic time-tracking
Successful lawyers know they need an integrated solution to track their time. That means a mobile app, multiple timers for multiple clients, and automatic integration with invoicing software.
This kind of robust law firm time-tracking software allows a lawyer to be on the go and just click start and stop.
Here are the different ways lawyers are taking advantage of features in their automatic time-tracking software:
1. Start and stop on mobile
Successful lawyers save time and count every billable hour by hitting start and stop right from a mobile app, so they don’t have to remind themselves to record the hours once they’re back at their desks.
2. Add an expense whenever you like
Are you tracking billable hours, but then a meal comes up that a client is paying for? The right software has a spot for that. Add it on desktop or mobile.
3. Plug-in to Microsoft Office
Are you in Word or Excel on client work? Use a plug-in from your time-tracking software to automatically record the time you work in Office365.
4. Use multiple timers
When you’re multitasking between cases, keep track of every task with multiple timers. This feature:
- Increases your productivity by making it easier to switch between tasks
- Improves accuracy in billing and invoicing
- Prevents you from making risky or embarrassing missteps like billing the wrong client for work
5. Track billable time from email
Email is a big part of your (professional) life, but are you losing billable hours to your inbox?
If you’re sending off message after message in Microsoft Outlook on behalf of a client, successful lawyers use an Office365 plug-in to track and record their billable time automatically.
6. Easily add LEDES Billing Codes
These standardized legal codes for billing purposes are not the most thrilling part of being a lawyer, so that’s why tech-savvy lawyers aren’t wasting their time when it’s time to send an invoice by going back through reports to try to add LEDES Billing Codes client by client.
Instead, with the right time-tracking software, there is a space for that code every time you start a new time entry.
7. Add a (short) accurate description
As you know, labeling something is sometimes just as important as the work itself. If you have an inconsistent or inaccurate label on a file stored on your PC or Mac, it may take three times as long to find it.
The same goes when a lawyer adds a new time entry. Savvy lawyers know to not just write “attorney time,” “client help,” or “phone call” in the description of a time entry, but to be just a little more specific by writing, for instance, “client intake call” or “conference with opposing counsel.”
Pro-tip: standardize how you describe your many tasks. For example, instead of labeling it an “initial client consult,” always call it a “client intake call.” That way, at the end of the month, it’s easy to analyze how much time you spend on different aspects of your work—from case research to email, from writing briefs to client phone calls. Use that data to better understand how you spend your time and how you could change that distribution.
8. Take breaks!
Of course, every lawyer knows the importance of a good break to recharge the mind and spirit. With the right-time tracking software, you just start your break with a click.
Firm-wide time tracking
It goes beyond the individual lawyers when it comes to tracking time. Firm-wide time reporting is just as important, so make it part of your office culture.
Successful firms use features in time-tracking software that allow them to see reports on which lawyers bill the most hours, what the firm is spending time on (case research vs. client phone calls, emails, etc.), and their expenses over time. This way, they can analyze what’s working, what’s not, and how to become more profitable.
The right legal time-tracking software has all those macro features included.
Never miss a billable hour with Rocket Matter
Take a look at your full staff. If you’re a firm of ten lawyers all using their own way of tracking billable hours (some not automated), you may be losing ten hours of billable time per month or, as we pointed out, $24,000 in billing per lawyer per year.
With a team of ten attorneys, that’s a potential annual loss of $240,000.
To erase losses and take back your attorneys’ time, Rocket Matter’s automated time tracker is here to help you put all of your time-tracking, invoicing, and reporting in one place.
Rocket Matter’s integrated automated time tracker empowers you to decrease workloads and gain new insights that help grow your firm.
Worried there isn’t time to train your team on new software? Attorneys have called ours self-explanatory. Sign up for a free demo to give this convenient, legal-specific technology a try and you may soon be asking, why did our firm ever do it any other way?
How to Increase Your Profits with Rocket Matter
Lawyers in firms of all sizes struggle to finish the work for the day in a reasonable amount of time. With document creation, non-billable tasks, and time spent following up with current and potential clients, the workday quickly turns from a planned eight-hour day into a twelve-hour one.
How to Master Your Law Firm’s Time and Billing
Lawyers have a heavy workload. With so many clients and their various needs, it’s easy to put tedious administrative tasks like time tracking and billing on the back burner.
6 Billing Strategies to Grow Your Law Firm
Scaling your law firm doesn’t just mean adding more lawyers or increasing your number of clients. The best way to boost your law firm’s finances is to minimize your non-billable hours and make sure that every hour of your day is accounted for.