You went to law school to practice law, but you also have to deal with the burden of tracking time and generating invoices. This is by far the least exciting part of the job, but it must be done to collect money and keep your practice going.
Think about all of your billable time. Do you really think you are collecting on all of that time? Recent reports have shown that law firms bill for a dramatically lower number compared to actual hours worked. There is a way to fix this though. Here are seven best practices to consider when capturing and billing hours:
1. Establish a time tracking policy
Time is money. There’s no other way to look at it. Your firm should establish a documented time policy to get everyone on the same page in regards to billable hours. Simply writing down a policy can improve the culture and mentality of your firm.
2. Weekly tracking instead of monthly
While establishing a time policy, think about entering billable time on a weekly basis as opposed to a mad dash at the end of the month. This way, your billing admin will be able to gather all of this information weekly, making end of the month billing that much easier.
3. Log your time daily
You or your associates may be guilty of waiting until Friday afternoon to figure out and enter billable time for the week. This guessing game can be avoided by instituting a policy of logging time worked at the end of every day.
4. Don’t forget to capture ALL of the time
Besides actual billable worked hours, capture non-billable time as well. A senior partner can look at these time logs and see where all of the time is being spent, and possibly adjust resources and shifts to maximize use of time. This brings it all back to time equaling money.
5. Review missing time weekly
Always separate time keeping from billing. Review the missing time from the previous week every Monday. This will prevent anything from being missed, and if time IS missed, rectifying the issue will be simple because not much time has passed.
6. Make sure to close out time entries at the end of every week
Check that your timekeeping software allows you to closeout each week. This will prevent any modifications to time entries from the previous week and also ensure that time is entered the day work is completed.
7. Commission incentives
Pay your timekeepers on a commission of funds received. You’ll be amazed how quickly timekeepers will adapt to these new time keeping methods when they realize it will affect their own paycheck.
If you allow yourself to shift your thinking about how time is calculated for your firm, you will have much more success in capturing time and billing, which leads to more money and more time.