In a law firm environment, every increment of time equals some measure of money. Lawyers who capture their time effectively see greater profit coming into the firm. But those who fail to capture all the hours of a day lose opportunities and money.
This exemplifies the importance of billable time to legal practice. Lawyers need to capture and bill as much time as possible and here are some tips for making that happen.
1. Identify unbilled time, fees, and expenses
Before you can implement strategies to capture more time and billable hours, you need to identify how and where this time gets lost. To accomplish this goal, have your staff track all of their time, whether they consider it billable or not. This information allows you to fully review what’s happening throughout the firm and where opportunities for billing are missed.
For instance, maybe an associate who bills for $250 an hour spends way too much time on an administrative project that cannot be billed. Armed with this information, you can make the necessary changes to ensure that your associate works on profitable tasks.
2. Establish best practices
The first step to capturing and billing time is establishing processes to make it happen throughout the firm. Inadequate time tracking and billing processes account for far too many wasted billable hours, but many law firms fail to implement processes that promote appropriate use and tracking of firm hours.
Without effective practices in place, firms allow for an environment where procrastination and inaccuracies persist. As a law firm leader, you need to put systems in place that promote timely completion of tasks and counteract unproductivity.
This can be effectively accomplished with legal project management, where matters are broken down into specific tasks, budgets, and timelines. Regular project reviews allow you to better gauge missed billable hours and make changes to capture them.
Once you have time management processes in place, you must ensure that those hours are being accurately and completely tracked. Some of the time tracking procedures you may implement within your office include:
- Mandatory completion of time entries as tasks are completed, with time tracking completed on at least a daily basis to promote accuracy and completeness
- Weekly review of time records for the identification of missing time and billing opportunities
- Extensive training for all new firm members regarding the importance of appropriately capturing and billing time
Failure to establish best practices within your firm leaves the door open to missed billing opportunities and, ultimately, lost money into your firm. Make the effort to develop and implement processes that promote the capture and billing of all available time.
3. Accurate time tracking
Accurate time tracking is one of the most effective tools for capturing and billing more time. Too many law firms lose out on potential profits because timekeepers fail to track all of their tasks completely and accurately.
While the effective completion of client tasks makes up the most important part of providing legal services, that time and effort must be tracked and billed before the firm receives compensation for the hard work and effort. Attorneys work so diligently to serve their clients, that they often put their own needs second, including ensuring adequate compensation.
Have you ever worked diligently to complete a task and, when it’s done, say to yourself “I’ll record my time later today?” Then, later today becomes later in the week, and later in the week becomes later in the month. Before you realize it, you have either completely forgotten the details of that time spent, or you can’t accurately remember the amount of time spent. Memory is unreliable, so timekeepers need a time tracking system they can use as they complete each task. With the right tools in place, you can provide your billing staff with a reliable and complete record of all billable time.
4. Automate the billing process
Just as inadequate time tracking leaves law firm profits on the table, so does inefficient and inaccurate billing processes. Automation is necessary to capture and bill time more effectively. The right software makes this tedious task quicker and easier to complete, cutting down on errors and delays.
Look for a billing system that helps you get paid faster and easier, offering features such as:
- Firm monitoring that allows you to review and analyze the billing statistics of all firm members
- Reporting capabilities that give you a quick view of your practice health
- Customizable billing templates
- Online payment options
- Batch invoicing to send all bills with one click of the mouse
- Fixed fee billing tools
- Electronic billing code capabilities
TimeSolv legal billing system provides law firms with each of these features and more. The company prides itself on providing the invoicing tools your law firm staff members need to create and send invoices more efficiently. Remember that unbilled time never gets compensated, so an effective billing process is vital to bringing more money into your practice.
5. Make it mobile
Our society has become more mobile than ever before in history and the legal industry has followed suit. Lawyers do more and more work on the run and away from the confines of the office. If you have yet to provide your firm staff with the capability to work from virtually anywhere, you are not capturing all of your firm’s available time.
The mobility of cloud storage means that your staff can track billable hours no matter where their duties take them – from a courtroom to a boardroom. It also keeps them from having to drag around sensitive documents because they can easily access a client’s entire file remotely. Mobility empowers your entire law firm staff to stop missing billable time and start capturing all of it.
TimeSolv’s time tracking services include an extremely useful mobile app that provides the flexibility to work on the go while tracking time and expenses from anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about all the ways TimeSolv helps you capture and bill more time, click here to take advantage of a free, no-obligation trial.