LegalTech | Timekeeping
Whether a firm operates on a fixed fee or hourly basis, timekeeping is one of the most important functions for any law firm. Each lawyer is required to maintain detailed timesheets which is crucial later when creating invoices and charging clients. While there are many possible arrangements with the client, i.e. billable hours, fixed or capped fees, one thing is certain: each lawyer has to enter their time regularly and accurately. Yes, it is possible to create and keep timesheets on paper or spreadsheets… but why? Human error, lack of any metrics and reporting, and underbilling are just some of the possible consequences. Every law firm should have a system in place that does it for them. Below are some possible guidelines on how to go about it:
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIMEKEEPING SYSTEM: if you are a small or medium law firm, you might consider getting a Practice Management / CRM system that includes and integrated timekeeping module in it, e.g. Matter.Cloud (https://www.matters.cloud/features/time-and-expense), Amberlo etc. If you are a growing medium or a large law firm, you should consider a more sophisticated timekeeping application, like Iridium SmartTime or Intapp Time, that will allow for custom timekeeping, sophisticated automation that will help recover time from calendars, emails, phone calls and document management systems etc. and also have a solid reporting capability. In both cases the system should be also available on both iOS and Android smartphones.
- IMPLEMENT THE SYSTEM: make sure your new timekeeping system is properly introduced and installed and that both your lawyers and legal assistants have been trained on how to use it.
- ENCOURAGE YOUR LAWYERS: explain to your lawyers the benefits of regularly entering their time in the new system. Consider using a reward system that benefits lawyers who enter their time promptly. For others, explain the financial impact missed time can have on the firm.
- ANALYSIS/REPORTING: make sure your CTO or another designated person analyses reports from your chosen application. Only then you will be able to measure your legal services, what were they, how long they took to accomplish etc. You will also be able then to measure your timekeeper’s productivity and see that it takes attorney A an hour to draft a standard agreement, whereas attorney B takes two or three hours to perform the same task. It can also help determine how profitable are certain clients and cases and whether the partnership should continue accepting cases that have shown unprofitable.
- AUTOMATION: whatever automation your timekeeping application provides, take advantage of it. It should have timers that you can turn on and off for different tasks. It may have sophisticated automation modules that link, analyze and offer possible ‘missed’ time from your Outlook calendar, emails, office phone logs or your Document Management System.