How should my law firm be tracking time?
Whether you bill by a flat fee rate or the hour, all lawyers should be tracking their time. From figuring out client invoice amounts to determining productivity and pricing, time tracking is essential. To do it properly there are a few different methods firms can choose from, but it’s best to pick one of them and stick to it. For all of these methods, you should try to enter time as it occurs in order to avoid overcharging a client or forgetting to bill for time.
This is the fastest method to implement, but also can be one of the most cumbersome when it comes to ensuring accurate record-keeping. Write down the matter, time spent and description and then when it comes time to bill add the time as appropriate to client invoices. However, it’s also recommended to put these into a more searchable document in case a client contests any invoice charges, which would require some data entry.
Today’s mobile technology makes it simple to enter time from anywhere into a spreadsheet, where the client, matter and description should be noted in different columns. Once it comes time to bill, these items would then either be entered into a practice management software or placed onto a client invoice.
Time tracking software
Similar to the spreadsheet method, you can enter time and enter the related matter. These entries must then be transferred to your billing software in order to create a final invoice.
Legal-specific, integrated time tracking software
With legal-specific time tracking that’s connected to your practice management and/or billing software, you can easily see how much time has been spent on a case while quickly generating invoices without having to enter it manually. Many of these programs also have apps available, so you can track time on the go from any mobile device.
Time tracking is critical to getting paid for firms who bill hourly, as well as for firms who do flat fee billing in order to determine if their fees are competitive but still generating a profit. For both types of billing, time tracking can also highlight inefficiencies and show where there is room for improvement. By picking one method and sticking to it, firms can ensure there is no missed billable time.