What legal billing increment should our law firm use?
Deciding on what minimum billing increment your firm should use can have a big impact on efficiencies. There’s no one right answer, but they each come with benefits and drawbacks.
When billing, lawyers will typically choose one of the following increments to track their time. If tasks take less time than a given increment, the time is rounded up. Keep the following considerations in mind when evaluating your options.
1/10th of an hour or 6 minutes
Billing in short increments can let you dial into precise increments of time and keep bills manageable for clients. It’s a common billing increment for lawyers. However, it can be less efficient and cause both clients and attorneys to dash to beat the clock, a habit that isn’t always in service of quality work.
1/6th of an hour or 10 minutes
Billing at 10-minute increments is the happy medium between the other two increments. 10 minutes can be a flexible increment to bill in, although it may pose some problems for short tasks given the need to round up.
1/4th of an hour or 15 minutes
Billing at this higher increment can give you and your clients the opportunity to fully work through issues and questions. This can create a better environment for client service. However, larger increments can be looked at suspiciously if you don’t deliver value and results.
However, regardless of which billing increment you choose, you’ll likely always run into the challenge of how to fit projects into these segments. That’s where personal time management and prioritization come into play – the better you understand the work you have on your plate, the easier it will be to structure your work and billable hours.
No matter what you do, you should practice clarity with your billing. Be detailed in how you spend your time (i.e., don’t write that you spent 10 hours drafting pleas and reviewing documents). Which pleas were drafts? Which documents did you review?