The legal profession is as rewarding as it is demanding, and there are myriad challenges that lawyers face day in and day out. But, interestingly enough, some of the most annoying ones have nothing to do with lawyering.
For instance — all experienced lawyers will agree that time tracking is a massive issue for most law firms. But why is time tracking so tricky for even the keenest legal mind, and what can you do about it?
Time tracking isn't easy.
Most lawyers work on different matters for various clients almost every workday. So when they need to reconstruct what they worked on for whom at the end of a particularly long day, it's just another tedious task in the line of many.
And delaying this task compounds the problem. Our recollection of time, just like any other memory, gets hazier over time — meaning that time entry will only become more difficult if you delay it.
While lawyers are generally quite adept at remembering the big stuff they've done — substantive document work, conference calls, meetings — they tend to forget some of the little things. And those can add up.
How many 15-minute calls do you have sprinkled throughout your day as a lawyer — or impromptu client emails? And sure, these might be brief interactions. But if the lawyers use them to provide valuable legal advice to their clients, they're also worth charging.
Why is time tracking important?
Lawyers typically charge their clients for the time spent working on a case. As such, billing accuracy and time are vital to lawyers out of an ethical dedication to their clients' budgets. On a more practical note, the proliferating nature of billing guidelines has only increased the scrutiny over legal budgets. Proper time tracking is crucial in not underbilling or overcharging any clients.
Time tracking best practices
If you want your legal practice to become more effective at time tracking, consider implementing some of these tips:
- Log your hours regularly
- Allocate time for email management
- Start your day with a to-do list or create weekly workplans
- Implement a mobile time tracking strategy
- Make the process easier with technology with a law practice management software.
Log your hours regularly
As we've mentioned above, ironically, time tracking can be quite time-consuming, which is why many lawyers put the task off for as long as possible. However, we advise not logging your time at the end of your day or even the week. If you charge your clients an hourly rate calculated in small time increments (like quarter-hours or six-minute intervals), you're likely to forget about some of the more minor activities that are still billable. If you want your time logs to be accurate, make a habit of recording your hours throughout the day.
Allocate time for email management
Communicating with clients, various legal institutions, and colleagues takes up a huge chunk of any lawyer's time daily. And today, we do most of that by email. In most industries, the average office worker spends about a third of their workweek solely on emails — and lawyers aren't the exception.
With that in mind, it's crucial to properly bill for all of those hours spent managing your email correspondence. One of the ways of doing that is allocating specific blocks of time for email management every day. That way, you'll know precisely how much time you've spent on this activity — and nothing will slip through the cracks.
End your day with tomorrow's to-do list
Yes, this almost feels too trivial to mention — but without a to-do list, you'll be easily distracted by urgent tasks, various clients, and your colleagues. And in the end, you'll forget to log some of your work.
Hence — the need for a to-do list. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. And you can use everything from a paper planner or an office whiteboard to digital timesheets and more complex time tracking software. When you decide to implement it, think about spending 15 minutes planning out what you'll do tomorrow at the end of your workday. Luckily, creating to-do lists is easier with today's task management tools.
Implement a mobile time tracking strategy
The pandemic notwithstanding, lawyers frequently work outside their offices. There are many situations where lawyers provide value to clients, even when not at a desk.
However, tracking time regularly is just as important in those situations — which is why you should implement a time tracking strategy that includes apps on mobile devices.
Make the process easier with technology.
Speaking of technology — you shouldn't allow time tracking and similar menial tasks to distract your workflow or even hold you back from dealing with more cases and clients. For example, corporate tools like digital signing can help you reduce time spent on repetitive tasks to achieve optimal efficiency. Luckily, this isn't an issue if you harness the power of today's digital technologies with the right law practice management software.
Tessaract, Law Practice Management
Practice management software like Tessaract can streamline and automate most of your practice's administrative needs. Instead of worrying about mundane tasks and letting them sap your energy, you can focus on what you want to do — practice law.
And if you're worried about adapting your practice to a new piece of software, don't be — Tessaract is a highly-customizable solution for law practice management that can easily be adjusted to suit the specifics of your legal firm.
Mobile integration, bespoke reports, custom workflows, and even client-facing portals — Tessaract is here with the digital tool package you need to free up your time to focus on important matters instead of details like time tracking. You can also learn more about how Tessaact enabled That.Legal to achieve agile growth and save costs during the pandemic.
If you want access to easy and mobile-friendly time tracking for lawyers, along with tons of other valuable tools — request your Tessaract demo today!