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Five steps to better legal time entries

Written by Misbah Siddiqui

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If you are an associate or even a junior partner in a law firm, often times one of the most visible markers of your contributions to the firm’s work is in your time entries. Of course, billing one’s time is perennially one of the least-loved aspects of a lawyer’s job, but letting that annoyance with the process creep into your time entry can easily cause major damage to your reputation. And putting in a little bit of effort in crafting one’s time entries can result in the opposite: happy managing partners and happy clients alike. Here are five easy steps to incorporate into your everyday legal time entry practices.

 

Be as Specific as Possible

Rather than say something vague such as “conduct legal research” or “review client documents,” be as specific as possible in describing what you are doing. For example, you could write, “Research 9th Circuit caselaw regarding potential laches defense in second amended reply” or “Conduct analysis of Mr. Johnson’s retained emails for potential responsiveness to March 4, 2017 SEC document request.” TimeSolv lets you use custom abbreviations so you don’t have to rewrite long descriptions over and over again. This feature is two-fold. You’ll be able to create time entries quicker for tasks you do often and two, it creates a uniform language within your office to describe tasks.

 

Remember that Your Client is Your Audience

As an associate, it is easy to think of your managing partner as your “audience” for your time entries, and, while that is true to some extent, the managing partner’s “audience” is the client, so make sure your entries are geared towards expressing to the client what work you have done on its behalf.

 

Let Your Entries Reflect Progress on Client Goals

To that end, you should endeavor to show progress on client goals in your time entries, especially when you are making multiple entries over days and even weeks for a large task on behalf of a client. This is where being specific again helps. If you are drafting a complicated summary judgment motion, have your various entries reflect the progress being made on it.

 

Avoid Block-Billing

For many clients, this is actually a requirement, but, even when it is not, clients generally prefer to see every task separated into its own entry as opposed to being clumped together in one large entry.

 

Enter Your Time as You Complete It

This is often the hardest step for attorneys to follow, but, when done, it can make their lives a lot easier. Yes, it may feel like a pain to enter time every time you complete a task, but it will not be any easier if you wait to a later time when trying to recall it well enough to describe in detail becomes even more difficult. The more you enter your time as you do it (made simple with features such as time entry via a mobile app), the easier it will be to get a rhythm going and have it be less and less of a burden for you.

 

Optimize Your Firm with TimeSolv

TimeSolv offers backend automated office solutions that brings big-firm innovation to all types of firms, no matter the size. We provide low-cost automated solutions to optimize your firm’s billing, collection, expense tracking, internal reporting, and project management efforts, and offer free training to ensure that you are maximizing all the features that TimeSolv has to offer. To start your free 30-day trial of TimeSolv today, click here.

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