For lawyers, it’s difficult to measure the hours invested in their work. Meetings, research, and hours of argument development are ongoing. There is constant contact with your clients, who you advise through their legal process. This can include constant phone calls or emails that may be brief, but take time out of your workday.
Lawyers are also always on the move. You’re not commonly glued to your desk 8 hours daily, 5 days a week. The commuting between the office and courtroom, or to meeting places with your clients, is hard to track at the end of a workweek. This is why the commuting and work completed away from the desk is often overlooked when attorneys try to track time to help you bill their clients.
Beyond tracking hours to be billed to clients, lawyers need a proper method to understand the length of time that various cases can take. That way, you can set realistic scheduling for similar cases in the future and stay on top of necessary deadlines. With the many court dates, client meetings, phone calls, and research hours, you need a structured breakdown of tasks to help stay grounded and not lose focus amidst all of your work.
The Negative Impact of Losing Track of Time
The challenge of lawyer time tracking is that it’s hard to combine all of the daily tasks, and in the end, this could leave all parties involved slighted. This could manifest as the lawyer who is undercharging and burning out from working overtime and not receiving proper financial compensation, or the client who is receiving help from a disorganized attorney.
1. Underbilling clients
When onboarding a client, you embody the role of advisor and defender of their rights. Most cases have some unique element, which is why you, the advocate, need to take time to learn about your client, and the legal incident involved. One sit-down meeting is easy for tracking the time elapsed with your client as you gain the information you need from them and offer your guidance to assist them through the process.
However, the consultation process is not usually finished with one simple meeting. It involves quick calls every so often about any questions on either side that need clarification or corresponding emails sharing information back-and-forth. During a case or when assisting a client, you need to be available to them whenever they need assistance or legal advice.
This could be costing you a lot of time and work that is not being compensated financially without lawyer time tracking. One client’s brief question to you may have seemed effortless to answer. However, you have just offered valuable legal advice that deserves to be charged for.
2. Overbilling clients
The other problem with losing track of your scheduling and services is that you could generalize them with blanket charges that are far over the original quoting for your client. If you round up when considering your commutes or your phone call lengths, the total of the billing may extend far beyond the time you’ve actually committed to your client. You may get confused when looking back on your work week, which could cause charging for time spent on another case.
This could leave your overcharged client feeling taken advantage of when seeking your advocacy services, which will impact your continued business rates. While it’s great to charge a large bill and receive payment from a client, it’s more beneficial to charge fairly so they will continue seeking your services for their future legal issues.
Lawyer Time Tracking Strategies and Their Flaws
These are some of the methods being implemented in the law field for advocates to track their time. However, are they really that helpful?
1. Calendar scheduling
When the whirlwind of a week is nearing its end, how can you recall all of the hours of work, and to what cases they were invested? When reviewing your calendar, you can trace back your meetings with your clients, court dates and timing and other regular calendar items. So long as it’s in the calendar, you can add the sum to be billed to your clients. This would not include the phone calls, emails and movement to/from your meeting locations.
2. Reviewing correspondence
By looking back on your past emails with clients and the chain, you can judge the general timing that it took out of your day. When it comes to phone calls, you may review your past conversations to find specific times to add to the billing. This focused method of tracking can be helpful, yet it leaves other efforts overlooked.
3. The lawyer stopwatch
This is a lawyer time tracking strategy that you can click to start and end over the course of email writing while conducting online research, creating documents and developing arguments. It’s a great aid for you when needing to find concrete timing for fairly charging your clients. Yet, it overlooks any offline work being conducted, like in-person meetings, days in the courts and more.
Make Use of Smart Time Tracking Software
While some of the above solutions can be combined to develop a general idea of your timing, it’s best to rely on software that will make it easier for you to track everything. Using a platform like actiTIME, your timesheet is ready for you at all times. It’s easy to use, and you can quickly access it to plug every email, call, meeting, research session and more. If you’re away from the desk and in court, you can start your timer so that every minute is being recorded to be invoiced in the future.
As an advocate, your time is valuable. actiTIME recognizes this and will be your best timing and billing assistant. Every moment you commit to your clients does not go overlooked, and they will receive invoices that are fair and not overcharged. It’s the right step to helping you build positive, mutually beneficial relationships with your client, so they’ll want to keep seeking your services in the future.
Originally published at actitime.com