In search of lost time: Tracking and recording time
Tracking and recording time is one of those daunting tasks that
no one ever warned you about in law school. Regardless of your
billing structure, you should be tracking and recording your time.
If you bill by the hour, it is essential that you keep accurate
records of your time. Failing to track time can add up. Say you
bill at an hourly rate of $300. Missing a mere six minutes a day
decreases your bottom line by about $30 a day, resulting in a total
loss of approximately $7,500 a year. Even if you do not bill by the
hour, keeping your time can assist in calculating flat fee case values.
In a typical day, most attorneys are bombarded with a variety of
matters. You are constantly required to switch gears throughout the
day, from your office to court to a client's office, from telephone
to email to document drafting and more. If you still sit down at
the end of each week to reconstruct and record your time for that
week, you are both wasting time and losing money. It may be nearly
impossibly to recall one day's events, let alone weeks on end. Here
are some tips to track and record time:
- Make a habit of tracking and recording your time
contemporaneously. Don't wait until the end of the week or even the
end of a day.
- Use a computer to track and record your time. Microsoft Word
and Excel are two simple solutions for manual recording. But,
better yet, use a computer program that automatically tracks and logs your time.
- If you do track your time manually, keep your time tracking
document open on your computer, available on your mobile device, or
otherwise easily accessible to you all day long.
- To avoid double entry (i.e. you track manually and your
assistant inputs records into a billing program), input your time
directly into a time and billing program, or into a program that
can export your time logs into your billing program.
- Use time tracking programs or apps that are compatible with your mobile
device, phone, and e-mail. Automatic trackers can track and log
phone conversations, texts, e-mail and more.
Although rolling out a new system may take time and resources,
you will not only save time and money in the long run, but you will
also avoid those daily/weekly time tracking frustrations. Don't
waste your precious time searching for lost time, instead make
changes in your time tracking and recording processes now.
Tip courtesy of Heidi Alexander, Law Office Management Assistance
Published February 21, 2013
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice
Chair Cynthia E.