We keep track of time everywhere at work. How long is the client meeting? How long will it take to write this brief? How much time do we need to run the discovery process?
But are you keeping accurate track of that time?
In the legal industry, guesstimating on time can be highly problematic. Without reliable processes for recording how much time they’re spending on tasks, law firms can run into serious operational challenges.
Here are five major risks you take when you don’t implement a robust time tracking platform into your timekeeping processes. (And the straightforward solution to them!)
1. Risk: Losing billable (and non-billable) hours
You need billable hours to keep your firm running. What’s more, you need accurately tracked billable hours to keep your firm running.
If your firm is manually logging billable hours, you’re jeopardizing your profitability. It’s theoretically possible to accurately track your work in six-minute increments—but it requires extreme diligence and care.
And if you don’t log as you work, you lose time. Research finds that waiting until the end of the day to record your time results in a 10% loss of time. Waiting longer than a day can cost you 25% or more.
It’s not just about the billable hours, either. Tracking your non-billable hours helps you accurately price your legal services and identify processes that can be streamlined.
2. Risk: Inefficient billing processes
Identifying efficient billing processes probably wasn’t top-of-mind during law school, but they’re key to running a profitable law firm.
Billing processes also eat up a lot of time, especially when you’re using a manual time tracking process. If your firm still manually tracks time, your staff has to source time records from individual attorneys, organize them, and then enter them into your law firm’s billing system.
But when you implement an efficient time tracking software, you can hop right over those steps—attorneys track time with the software, which then is used to generate accurate, user-friendly invoices.
And the result is more than just easier billing—less time spent on administrative tasks means more time for billable hours and higher profits.
3. Risk: Damaging client trust
Your clients come to you for your legal knowledge, but they stay because they trust you. That trust isn’t unconditional, though. Legal work represents a significant commitment of time, emotion, and, of course, money.
So do your legal billing practices support your client’s trust in you? When you send incorrect bills or don’t appropriately support billing charges, you can quickly lose your client’s faith in your law firm. This loss of trust can cascade, too—unhappy clients have a negative impact on your reputation and potential business.
Much of this can be headed off by using time tracking tools. Strong time tracking practices lead to better billing practices, which help build client trust and bring in more business.
4. Risk: Lower team morale and accountability
Time tracking might not seem like a morale booster, but hear us out. Time tracking is actually an effective tool for supporting a healthy law firm culture.
When employed alongside a transparent, supportive workplace culture, time tracking can help team members understand how they’re using their time. Is time consistently running out for due diligence? Does one team member wrap up tasks ahead of schedule?
Time tracking helps your firm answer these kinds of questions. It helps you identify where more support is needed—and recognize when you could put someone’s skills to better use.
Time tracking can also increase team engagement and ownership of tasks. Accountability tends to foster greater engagement. It allows attorneys, paralegals, and staff to see the tangible effects their work has on progress and success—and when employees know their work matters, higher engagement follows.
5. Risk: Decreased profitability
What do all of these risks come down to? Lost profitability.
- Losing billable hours risks your law firm’s profitability.
- Inefficient billing processes risk your law firm’s profitability.
- Damaging client trust risks your law firm’s profitability.
- Lower team morale and accountability risks your law firm’s profitability.
Setting up diligent time-tracking processes at your law firm has numerous impacts, but they all come back to helping you build a successful, profitable practice.
Solution: Implement comprehensive time tracking software
Despite all the risks of not tracking your time, time tracking doesn’t actually have to be difficult. Today’s time tracking tools are robust, easy to implement, and highly user-friendly. The best tools sync with the other programs you’re using to run your law firm and can streamline a range of workflows across all areas of operations.
When considering a time tracking platform for your law firm, look for one that offers the following features:
- Tracks time anywhere and on any device
- Runs multiple timers to track tasks simultaneously
- Allows you to create time budgets
- Provides robust reporting and analytics