As the old saying goes, “Time is money.” It’s a fitting mantra for legal practice where management of time and information are crucial to the operation of a competent and profitable business.
When we talk about ‘leakage’, we’re not discussing the trade of confidential secrets. We’re talking about those moments when legal practitioners fail to capture time and record it accurately, leaving a gap between the hours worked and the hours billed to the client or matter. If you’re worried about time leakage, here are some tips to watch the clock and boost your revenue.
Be accountable for your time. When you lose the ability to track time and monitor employee behaviour, you compromise the billing process and your revenue stream can be affected. In its study of costs, billing and profitability, the Queensland Law Society suggests that the discipline of recording your time also makes you use it more effectively – it makes you think about what you are doing.1 As a firm, offer policies, guidance and training regarding time recording which, in turn, should lead to less procrastination and better time-management skills.
Accurate and detailed timekeeping creates client satisfaction and improved profitability. Keep track of time manually if necessary, then enter it into an automated system at a later time and monitor your progress against daily budgets. Review the efficiency of your existing systems and procedures to see if you can streamline work and increase the accuracy of your timekeeping.
Consider using a fully integrated, automated system for timekeeping, accounting and practice management. Time-capture software may also help you to prepare accurate timesheets. The benefits of automation include:
- Flexibility, meaning systems can be tailored to meet the needs of your business.
- Efficiency – easy-to-use functions that reduce or eliminate manual errors.
- Comprehensive document management and accessibility to case information.
Modern technology is fast-paced and it’s important that the legal profession stay tuned to new developments. If you are out of the office on a regular basis, you can download apps on your smartphone or tablet to record your time and sync back via Wi-Fi or 4G to your PC or work system.
As hard as it is to ‘keep time’, if you can keep one eye on the clock you will reap the economic benefits and boost your bottom line.
1. Queensland Law Society (2009) ‘Guide to Costs, Billing and Profitability’