Best Practices in Timekeeping for Legal Professionals

Timekeeping may represent a minor task on your daily activities list, but it plays an outsized role in the profitability of your firm. Proper timekeeping prevents billable hours from leaking away—and it is a key part of understanding the big picture of your firm’s finances and where time is spent. 

We’ve shared a few best practices below to help you polish up your timekeeping habits.

Don’t let timekeeping become a chore

The easier timekeeping is to do, the more likely you are to do it.

To start, track time as it happens. We’re human, after all, and memory has a way of warping the events of the day so that you remember the intense experiences more—and those fifteen minutes before you refilled your mid-morning coffee? Not so much.

Next, use a time tracker that’s integrated with your billing system. This saves time spent on administrative tasks and data entry. It also reduces the potential for errors, which of course takes time to fix.

Additionally, clients appreciate receiving organized and descriptive bills, which are easier to do if you contemporaneously track time and have those details saved directly to the matter file.

Productivity awareness is central to a good timekeeping practice

Timekeeping doesn’t simply involve keeping track of your time—it also entails knowing how that time is spent.

The advantage of tracking both billable and nonbillable hours is that you can draw on data to analyze patterns and make improvements. You can also leverage technological tools to reduce time spent on non-billable tasks.

Particularly for smaller firms and solos who don’t have additional staff, a good practice management system allows you to redirect hours to billable tasks by saving you on basic office chores that can eat into a day. Look to batch billing, automated reminders, and trust accounting safeguards to decrease the percentage of your day that isn’t spent using your degree. 

Likewise, consider a practice management system with an integrated, legal-specific merchant like LawPay that lets you accept credit cards with online payments—and stay compliant. 

Online billing can greatly reduce the number of steps required on your end in order to get paid. It also streamlines the payment process for clients, making them more likely to pay their bills — and pay on time. Especially as the pandemic has forced everyone to spend more time shopping for services and even basic household goods online, credit card payments are becoming an expected part of any business transaction.

Your timekeeping strategy should be as mobile as you

Pandemic aside, lawyers often work in settings beyond their offices. Whether you’re trying to squeeze some work in on your phone on-the-go or you’re at court, there are many situations where you’re still working but don’t have an office computer in front of you.

In these instances, it’s still important to track time as it happens, rather than entering scribbled notes into a computer once you’re back at the office. Having a cloud-based timekeeping option makes mobile work easier and allows for seamless integration, no matter which device you’re using. 

Harness the power of available technology

However you may feel about technology in your personal life, it’s hard to argue against it in your business. While a practice management system comes with an up-front cost, the money you save by preserving your hours for billable work should earn you back far more. 

Don’t let timekeeping and related tasks hold you back from taking on more clients or cases. Instead, track time as it happens, reduce administrative hours to make time for billable work when possible, and use a program that lets you work from anywhere.

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