In the law practice industry, lawyers should have a clear understanding of what constitutes billable and non-billable hours. Billable hours include all the time they spend working on matters, i.e. time that their clients pay for. Non-billable hours include administrative tasks, timekeeping and other errands, not related to clients. As long as time tracking is a part of non-billable activities, law practitioners show less interest in timekeeping. However, the consequences can hurt their and the firm’s income like in the following example:
This example illustrates the importance of accurate time tracking in law firms. At actiTIME, we’ve got law firms and individual consultants among our clients, so we’d like to show you how law firms can profit from actiTIME and how to fine-tune this time tracker to never miss a billable second and make time tracking an automated and hassle-free process.
1. Create Billable & Non-Billable Tasks
In actiTIME, you can define billable and non-billable tasks in the Types of Work interface. For billable tasks, you can define hourly rates, run reports, generate bills and invoices. What makes this feature especially useful for law firms is that you can set up hourly rates according to particular lawyers and attorneys, clients and tasks.
Pro tip: Ask your staff to capture billable and non-billable time. This information allows you to keep track of activities inside the law firm, identify time sinks and find more opportunities to generate more revenue.
2. Customize Work Structure
actiTIME offers a three-level hierarchy that you can customize for your own needs. The default level structure goes as “Customer / Project / Task,” but you can adjust it according to your needs.
Pro tip: According to our clients, most law firms prefer the “Client / Case / Task” structure.
3. Run Analytics & Reports
With types of work and work structure defined, you can use the logged time to build charts and run reports. Our clients from the law practice industry prefer Billing Summary and Cost of Work reports.
Billing Summary Report
Billing Summary report displays time reported for billable and non-billable activities and billable amounts calculated on the basis of assigned hourly rates.
Cost of Work Report
Cost of Work report displays costs calculated for working and leave hours reported by the selected users. Costs are based on hourly user rates.
Time-Track In Detail Report
With the Time-Track In Detail report, you can learn what your team and particular employees have been working on and for how long. You can group the data by date range, customers, matters and tasks. If you enable the comments option in the report settings, you will see time log notes left by employees.
Pro tip: As a law firm leader or manager, you may enjoy Billing Summary and Cost of Work reports to keep track of billable and non-billable amounts. Consider using a Time-Track In Detail report to review how work time is distributed across employees, clients and tasks.
4. Track Time From Anywhere
Some lawyers and attorneys charge by the hour, while some bill in increments of an hour. In any case, every billable second matters for law firms and legal professionals personally. actiTIME allows to track time in three ways: using timesheet browser software, Chrome timer extension and mobile apps. Let’s see how law firms can use them effectively.
Online Timesheet Software
Timesheet software is the key interface of actiTIME. There, your employees can easily create or add predefined tasks from the list to their weekly timesheet, track time against them, review their total working time and overtime hours, change task status and use leave statuses if this functionality is turned on.
Pro tip: If your team of legal professionals bill their clients in small increments, it’s very important that their clients know how they spend every billable minute. Establish a rule in your law firm to accompany every time log with detailed descriptions of what’s been accomplished. You can see these comments in reports and billings.
Chrome Timer App
If your team works behind their desks the whole day, they’ll enjoy actiTIME browser extension with a stopwatch and a list of open tasks to choose from. Track billable time right from the browser and switch between the tasks in a few clicks.
Pro tip: Make it a rule in your team that your legal professionals use their browser extension timer to capture billable and non-billable time. Create a separate non-billable task for time tracking that your employees could use after they completed a task to switch to their timesheets and fill in the time log comments.
Time Tracking Mobile App
Many legal professionals often work away from their desks and outside their offices. Most of them answer client calls or reply to emails in a car or from home. With a mobile time tracking app, you can use a stopwatch or log time manually against tasks, rather than recollect your day later with less accuracy. Even if your device went offline, actiTIME will sync your data and update your timesheet.
Pro tip: Track your time right away. Tomorrow you won’t remember what you did today in enough detail to report it in 6-minute or 10-minute intervals.
5. Feel Certain That Your Data is Secure
If you use actiTIME Online (learn if you need to switch to actiTIME Self-Hosted), your data is stored in our data center that uses an encrypted connection, firewall security and corresponding security certificates. We also back up the data daily and store recent database copies in case you need to restore your data.
Never Miss a Single Billable Minute
Legal professionals tend to log their time the next day or at the end of the week, while every missing billable minute leads to thousands of dollars losses for law firms. In the legal industry where every billable minute matters, you need a reliable time tracking solution with time entry comments, analytics and reports, billing features that provide detailed work descriptions to clients.
If your team of legal professionals has never used time tracking systems before, they may feel resistant to implementing new software into their routines. Hold a training meeting, establish timekeeping rules, create a non-billable task for time tracking routines. Join other law firms among our clients or book a product demo to see if actiTIME is a good fit for your business.