Why Lawyers Should Use Time Tracking Software

Tracking time spent on meetings, briefs, case finding, discovery process, and other billable hours is a fundamental part of a lawyer’s day. Every lawyer has their process for tracking their hours, but the important question is:

How accurate is time tracking?

Losing track of time, forgetting to stop a timer, or “guessing” a time can lead to billing issues or even legal implications. Without reliable timekeeping processes, law firms face significant operational challenges.

How important is time tracking for lawyers?

Lawyers rely almost exclusively on hourly billing. While some attorneys use a retainer or other billing structure, the majority of attorneys track billable hours.

Mistakes in either direction harm a lawyer and a firm’s reputation. If billable hours are understated, both the lawyer and the firm lose money for the time spent on a client file. If billable hours are overstated, the customer may question the accuracy. The last thing a lawyer wants in this competitive market is a bad reputation.

What do lawyers use to track their time?

Many attorneys use traditional billing methods where clients are billed by the billable hour in 10-15 minute increments. Lawyers have often captured this time manually in a spreadsheet or on paper. However, this time tracking process should be avoided as it is prone to human error and it can be easy to lose track of time.

Manual tracking is not only tedious on its own, but it has no liability as a tracking method. The results are not as accurate as one might expect, and in the event of a dispute, the lawyer has no transparency to account for the time spent.

What are the risks of lawyers not keeping up with the times?

Here are 3 risks of not using time tracking software for lawyers.

1. Loss of billable and non-billable hours

Billable hours are essential to running a business, but they need to be accurate. If a lawyer manually records billable hours, it poses a risk to overall profitability.

Worse still, some lawyers fail to record time as they work, which inevitably results in wasted time. Waiting for the end of the day can lead to 10% loss of time for lawyers. Longer than that and the loss climbs to 25% or more.

This does not only apply to billable hours. Tracking non-billable hours helps attorneys accurately assess legal services and identify processes that can be streamlined or outsourced to ensure profitability across the firm.

2. Billing discrepancies

Invoicing processes can be administratively time consuming, especially with a manual time tracking process. Law firm staff must sort time slips from individual attorneys, organize them, and enter them into a law firm’s billing system.

With effective time tracking software, attorneys can track time themselves using the software, which is then consolidated for staff to generate accurate invoices. This not only ensures an easier invoicing process, but also reduces time spent on administrative tasks that hamper productivity and cost money.

3. Impact on customer experience

Clients can go to a law firm or an attorney for legal expertise, but the client experience is highly dependent on how easy it is to do business with a firm. This applies to all aspects of working with a company, but especially billing.

It starts with an efficient and automated time tracking and invoicing process. With Bill4Time, a lawyer can easily switch between cases while stopwatches capture time. This process allows lawyers to work freely without guessing how much time they are spending on a specific case. Once this time is captured, the company can create a detailed report, personalized invoice which accurately reflects the time billed.

Introducing your law firm’s use of legal technology and automated processes during intake is a simple way to set the stage for a transparent attorney-client relationship.

Switch to time tracking software

Time is money, so lawyers need to adopt efficient and accurate processes.

Nina Lee is the author of this article.

©2006-2022, BILL4TIME. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 189