Time Keeps Slipping Away – the Value of Accurate Time Tracking At Your Firm

attorney using time tracking software
By investing in attorney time tracking software, firms can realize a significant ROI by increasing billable hours captured, reducing billing cycle times and improving cash flow.

Most law firms rely on partners and associates accurately tracking billable hours to get paid for their services. However, many attorneys still use antiquated methods like paper timesheets or spreadsheet trackers to capture their time. This leads to missing billable hours, billing delays and lost revenue. By investing in attorney time tracking software, firms can realize a significant return on investment by increasing billable hours captured, reducing billing cycle times and improving cash flow.

While the transition from legal pad and pen to attorney time tracking software can seem daunting, there are some tried-and-true tactics to smoothing what might feel like an uphill battle – and the payoff will be worth the process.

Overcoming Resistance to Time Tracking

Perhaps the highest hill to climb with respect to implementing attorney time tracking software is training and adoption. Many attorneys resist diligently tracking their time. Common reasons for pushback include viewing it as unnecessary micromanaging, too tedious and too time-consuming. 

To overcome resistance, there are a few actions you can take to ease the process: 

  • Frame it as an investment, not a chore. Explain how the upfront time spent will yield dividends through increased captured billable time and faster billing cycles.
  • Make law firm time tracking itself easy and frictionless. Leveraging technology like timers, voice tools and automated time capture prove to simplify the effort.
  • Lead by example. Firm leaders should demonstrate diligent time tracking habits. This sets the tone for the entire firm.
  • Link it to compensation. Tie individual attorney compensation to realization rates increased through better time tracking.
  • Regularly analyze and optimize. Use attorney time tracking data to identify efficiencies and remove bottlenecks. Show the value derived from tracking efforts.

Law Firm Time Tracking Best Practices

Set your attorneys up for success with law firm time tracking software by adhering to best practices. To maximize the accuracy and efficiency of time tracking, consider the following methods for a clean system and strong uptake. 

Remember the two Cs: Capture time Contemporaneously. Encouraging users to enter time as tasks occur is critical for capturing the full scope of work performed. Billing long after the fact leads to lost hours and write-offs. 

Second, socialize the mindset to “break down matters.”

Make law firm time tracking itself easy and frictionless. Leveraging technology like timers, voice tools and automated time capture prove to simplify the effort.

Develop some guidelines for attorneys to avoid simply lumping multiple activities under a broad matter description. Breaking matters down into specific tasks like calls, research or drafting motions provides better context for billing.

It is important to require attorneys to write narrative descriptions for each time entry to provide enough detail for anyone reviewing the bill to understand the specific work done.

This will be tough, but guidelines must be established around capturing time using the minimum increments appropriate for your billing needs (e.g., 0.1 hour). Smaller units capture time more accurately.

Most importantly, success with a time tracking transition is dependent on training all timekeepers. Ensure everyone responsible for time tracking understands these best practices, and provide ongoing training while monitoring adherence.

Integrations with Practice Management Software

Achieving the most ROI from your law firm time tracking investment will depend on the extent you integrate it with comprehensive practice management software. This software centralizes time tracking data with other firm operations for maximum efficiency. Well-designed software suites have deep integrations between time tracking and other core features. 

  • Calendar Syncing: Syncing calendars between time tracking and practice management software allows for easy time entry logging of appointments, hearings, calls and other scheduled events. Time can be captured directly from a calendar entry rather than needing separate transcription.
  • Document Management and Automated Reports: Robust document management and reporting integrations let you tie billable time entries directly to specific documents and files. For example, a time entry could be linked to drafting an initial client contract or reviewing discovery documents. This provides helpful context when later reviewing time records.
  • Accounts Receivable: An accounts receivable integration enables a seamless flow from time tracking to invoicing. Time entries process directly into pre-bills and invoices, reducing administrative tasks. This gets bills out faster, improving the firm’s cash flow.

You should start to see the benefits (ROI) of implementing attorney time tracking virtually immediately and notice an increase in billable hours captured and reduced billing cycle times. Because automated time capture feeds seamlessly into billing software, there should also be an automatic reduction in time spent recreating bills.

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Keep your cash flow strong, irrespective of the season or the reason. For an in-depth understanding of the time-saving benefits of CARET Payments, explore our case study on Wright Law LLC.

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