Never Lose Billable Time Again with Automatic Time Tracking Applications
If we asked 100 people, “Do you think you should get paid accurately for the time that you work?” 99 would probably say yes (there’s always a contrarian in the bunch).
Let’s be real though. Everyone wants to be paid accurately for their work. Just like all professional expects to be paid correctly and in full for their services, lawyers should be paid for their billable time.
But if that’s the case, then why are so many lawyers undercharging their clients and losing billable time?
We’re not talking about rates, pro bono policies, or any other conscious decision that law firms make regarding what they charge. We’re talking about the unintentional ways that law firms decrease their profits via lost billable time.
Why do lawyers lose billable time ALL the time?
Lawyers have a lot going on in the day. There’s always an urgent matter, big meeting, or court date to prepare for. But if any daily task isn’t a set, automated workflow, there’s a good chance that it will get pushed until the end of the day or even the end of the week.
Because lawyers juggle so many things, tracking billable hours can sometimes fall through the cracks.
Now, we’re not saying that law firms don’t track billable hours. They do, and they always have. What we’re saying is that manual time tracking using scraps of paper, jotting things down from memory, or checking calendars or emails after the fact, isn’t easy to keep up throughout the day or year. That causes your firm to lose out on billable time.
According to the ABA, lawyers who wait until the end of the day to track their time can lose 10% of their billable time. For lawyers who wait until the end of the week, that number goes up to 25% of billable time lost.
What’s more, manual time tracking entails even more work to translate those numbers to invoices, and lawyers must review each client’s invoice for accuracy, adding to the time it takes to accomplish a regular, non-billable task.
It’s a lose-lose situation.
Luckily, there is a way to mitigate these issues and improve your billable time: automated time trackers.
What are automated time trackers, and why do they matter?
Automated time trackers are a feature built into legal practice management software designed to make it as easy as possible for legal staff to track how they spend their time every day, and to use that data to automatically draft client invoices each month for review.
Automated time trackers log your time as you work within your practice management software interface, so you don’t have to constantly switch between applications. It’s easy to switch between clients, pause for breaks, and denote billable versus non-billable time. Because it’s an integrated tool within your practice management software, logged time transfers to your billing system to provide accurate, seamless time-tracking records.
Automated time tracker features include:
- Recording in real-time: Users can pause and resume time tracking with the click of a button
- Multiple timers: Juggling priorities? Multiple timers allow you to track from matter to matter without missing a beat
- Track from your email: On-the-go legal staff can track billable time and expenses directly from their Microsoft Outlook account
- Mobile-friendly: Track time with iPhone and Android apps, no matter where you are or when you’re working
Instead of constantly trying to account for your time and laboriously creating invoices each month, you only need to worry about conducting a final review of invoices each month to ensure accuracy. (Your accountants will thank you in advance.)
Four benefits of accurate time tracking beyond profit
Accurate time tracking may seem small at the moment, but it provides huge advantages down the road. Yes, it has a direct impact on your billable hours, but it also has a significant impact on your firm’s project management capabilities.
1. Accurate fees and rates
For firms that use fee structures such as flat fees, they need to understand how much work goes into certain types of tasks and projects. Firms often base their fees based on projected internal costs and precise historical data. With manual time tracking, firms can end up undercharging for their work when projects take more time than they should based on internal data.
With automated time trackers, firms can understand exactly how much time it takes on average for each assistant, paralegal, attorney, and partner to accomplish specific tasks. This enables firms to create accurate fees and rates based on the effort they put into a case matter.
2. Efficient billing practices
Incorrect and manual time tracking creates the perfect storm for inefficient billing practices. Firms have to go through more back and forth between staff, triple-check everything, and ensure that numbers match up across systems.
This is where automated time trackers come in handy. For example, Rocket Matter’s automated time trackers are integrated with their legal practice management and billing software. With an integrated system, staff can generate invoices based on staff time tracked, process multiple invoices at once, and just send the invoices around for final review.
As an added bonus, law firms can send invoices via secure links and clients can pay online, so firms get paid faster than ever before.
3. Complete compliance
Undercharging may cause firms to lose billable time, but it can lead to even more serious consequences if firms try to account for discrepancies by overcharging for their time.
The ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5 states that lawyers are not permitted to collect unreasonable fees for expenses. So unless you want to risk a breach in compliance with the American Bar Association, your firm should make sure that you’re accurately tracking and accounting for each billable hour.
4. Appropriate allocation of resources
By using an integrated time tracker, your team can learn exactly how much time and firm resources go into projects and what type of workload each staff member can handle.
An accurate picture of your resource and staff productivity can help firms predict project timelines with greater accuracy, as well as evaluate staff performance. With automated time tracking, firms can see which team members are exceeding expectations, and which might be underperforming.
Get the most out of your time tracking
Never lose a billable hour again. With Rocket Matter’s integrated automated time tracker, legal practices can easily track time and integrate billable hours with their billing and invoicing.
Schedule a demo today to save time and money with Rocket Matter.
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