3 Ways Lawyers Lose Billable Time – And How To Get it Back!
By Nicole Black
Have you ever had one of those days where you were incredibly busy all day long, but at the end of the day, you were faced with a blank time sheet? After working a full day you had nothing to show for it – at least when it came to billable hours!
The bad news? You’re not alone – it happens to the best of us!
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The good news? Technology can save the day. That is, as long as you’re using the right tools to help you track – and capture – all of your billable time, while simultaneously reducing the hours wasted on non-billable administrative tasks.
Don’t believe me? Then read on for 3 tips that will help you reclaim all of the billable time you lose each and every day.
Regain time lost while multitasking
These days, multitasking is a fact of life. Everybody does it, whether we like it or not. The problem with multitasking for lawyers is that when you quickly jump from task to task, you sometimes forget to bill for some of the smaller tasks completed.
For example, imagine you’re busy researching a legal issue for a memo, but receive an important call that you just can’t ignore. Then immediately after finishing the call, one of your paralegals stops into your office to discuss a case. Once that conversation is over, you read and respond to a few emails on a few different matters. Then you (finally) return to your legal research.
If you fail to immediately track each and every one of those billable activities, you’re out of luck. By the end of the day you’ll be faced, once again, with a nearly empty timesheet, left wondering where the day went and what you did.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to the multitasking problem: multiple desktop timers. With multiple desktop timers, you’re able to start and stop different timers as you work on each matter. So when you’re conducting legal research and are interrupted by a phone call you can stop the legal research timer and start a new timer for the phone call. And then another for the discussion with your paralegal, and another for the emails read. Then you can return to your legal research and re-start that timer.
That way you don’t lose track of any billable time, and at the end of the day all of your time is tracked, captured, and automatically associated with the appropriate case file. Instead of facing an empty timesheet, you’ll have captured all of the time billed throughout your busy – and productive – day.
Capture time billed while out of the office
Another way that lawyers lose time occurs when they’re working away from the office. When you’re on the road, you’re often engaged in billable activities. The trick is to ensure that you capture all of that billable time as it occurs.
So imagine you appear in court on one case, then head over to another courtroom for a short appearance on a different case. On the way there, you run into opposing counsel for an entirely different matter and have a short discussion about that case. Then you receive a phone call from a client, after which you head over to the courtroom to appear on the second case.
All of those activities constitute billable time for different cases. If you’re not able to capture that time, you’ll undoubtedly forget about it or underestimate the amount of time each activity took when you try to re-create your timesheet at the end of the day.
Enter mobile time-tracking. With mobile time-tracking, you’re able to enter time using your mobile device no matter where you are. So in the scenario above, you can immediately enter all of the billable activities that you just completed using your smartphone as you stand on the courthouse steps. All of the time entered is immediately captured and associated with the appropriate case. No more losing track of billable time when you’re out of the office!
Convert time spent on administrative tasks into billable hours
For many lawyers, having to perform administrative tasks is an unfortunate – and non-billable – part of their daily routine. And for some lawyers, those tasks take up a lot of their day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The effective use of increasingly affordable 21st century technologies can help you streamline your law firm and reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to do this is by using legal practice management software in your law firm.
With cloud-based law practice management software, all of your firm’s case-related information is securely stored online, including contacts, calendars, documents, notes and messages, deadlines, tasks and to-dos, billing, and more. No matter where you are you can easily access case-related information with the click of a button, using any internet-enabled device.
No more searching for files, contact information, or documents. With law practice management software, everything is readily available at your fingertips. You easily can track the status of cases, including staff progress on tasks and to-dos. All communications, from email to client messages sent through your firm’s secure portal, are easily located and reviewed. Law firm procedures are automated, reducing the time spent on recreating the same processes over and over again. Time-tracking, invoicing, and all stages of getting paid are streamlined and tracked, saving your firm hours of administrative time every week.
In other words, legal practice management software helps you reclaim and capture your billable time. No more hours spent spinning your wheels trying to locate missing information or recreating the wheel. Instead, your law firm will run smoothly and productively, allowing you to focus on what’s truly important: representing your clients.
So what are you waiting for? If your firm isn’t already using these tools, get started today! In no time flat you’ll reap the benefits of a more efficient – and profitable – law firm!