How Does Your Firm Track Your Lawyers’ Billable Hours?
Legal timekeeping management is a crucial part of attorneys’ work routine. The legal practice isn’t just about the lawyer appearing in court. It entails hours of “backend” tasks like compiling research and reports, conducting meetings, sending and replying to emails, making phone calls, and many more. Attorneys must accurately track the time they spend serving clients, including activities like these. Below are methods legal professionals use to track their hours.
Using a Calendar to Track Tasks
Filling tasks and time entries in a calendar is the traditional way of tracking hours. It has a flat learning curve, and the materials you need are widely available. A calendar also makes it easy to retrieve data and gives a bird’s eye view of the tasks you must accomplish.
However, it has limited functionalities. For example, you need to erase and reschedule items manually, and you cannot easily duplicate or share a physical calendar. It’s also susceptible to human error; for a team of lawyers, all of these can prove cumbersome at best.
Using an Email Service for Tracking
Often, case management involves staying on top of sent and received emails. Most legal practitioners today communicate through email and other digital platforms. Lawyers often get relevant information or updates on cases through emails.
Using emails to track billable hours makes sense since messages have time stamps. However, you will need to retrieve the data and record it in a journal or log. If you or your clients use several email services, this can cost you time instead of saving it.
Sorting Documents into Folders
Another tried-and-true legal timekeeping management tool is a folder system. You can do this digitally; administrative clerks can link hours to creating, editing, and modifying files. The downside to using timestamps on computers is it lacks automation. If one person forgets to access or save the files correctly, it could cause a chain of losses of data, time logs, or both.
Tracking Phone Calls
Modern phone services often provide data on call duration, dates, and numbers called. Tracking calls will help firms get a better picture of their lawyers’ productivity. However, you need to backtrack and recover data manually to generate reports on calls.
Using Digital Spreadsheets
Some legal professionals use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to help them sort their tasks and track their hours. Although these tools can help you with your productivity, they’re still not as flexible as total digital solutions geared primarily for legal professionals. You have to know how to create tables and use formulas to suit your needs.
Using Time Tracking Software
One of the best ways to track billable hours is by using time tracking software. Having this tool boosts attorneys’ productivity and makes it easy to define benchmarks and standardize the practice. Hourly billing is the most common method that lawyers use, and time trackers lets them break down their hourly rate into precise units. Using this software makes their process transparent, which makes them more accountable and increases clients’ trust.
If a firm has one client, it is easy enough to track billable hours. However, challenges arise when there are multiple clients on similar timelines. Failing to track hours properly can disrupt attorneys’ workflow, which leads to imprecisions in their fee calculations. Therefore, finding the best timekeeping method is crucial to lawyers’ performance.
Legal Technology Finder can help you decide which timekeeping management tool fits your firm’s needs. Timekeeping solutions are as varied as law firms, and we can help you select one based on your growth forecast, current caseload, desired features, and more. Browse all the categories or contact us to learn more!