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Time Cheque: How Lawyers Can Manage Their Billable Time Better

by PracticeLeague

For lawyers, professional time is their asset. Capturing or recording time spent in professional activity is essential to the productivity and profitability of lawyers. Slipping up recording professional time can also mean loss of revenue for the lawyers. For lawyers who bill at Rs 5000 and Rs 10,000 an hour, the slipping up on recording several hours in the week, can add up to a revenue loss of lakhs in a month. Also, when hours are not billed accurately and in a timely manner, they tend to create negative impression on the client and also erode the sense of the trust between lawyer and client.

However, lawyers don’t like the time keeping activity and it gets postponed to the end of the week. Then lawyers go about recalling the time they have spent on different clients and invariably this situation is ripe for time leaks. Court room appearances are easy to recall and record, however it the professional time spent in client meetings, on phone calls, on preparation of cases that are so elusive. Memory is not a reliable tool for time keeping. There are other more reliable tools and practices that can ensure that the billable time is not lost.

Recording time
Keeping time aside for time keeping is a habit that allows for time leaks to creep in. The solution is to record time contemporaneously i.e. to record billable time whilst one is at the task itself. So whether one is about to go in for a meeting, to begin working a case, the time you begin should be logged. Then when the task is completed, the time you finish should be logged. The complete description of the task can be done at a later date.

Automated Law Firm Billing
Many attorneys multi task. Whilst working on a task, they may attend to phone calls, check emails, or brief a junior partner on a case and so on. In such a scenario, it becomes difficult to record time and bill for each and every activity on time. Automated Law Firm Accounting Software like PracticeLeague can make automatic draft bills based on the billing arrangement to save your valuable time and account for every billable expense.

Use a software program
There are some good software products on the market today like PracticeLeague Law Practice Software to allow you to easily track and Bill your time. They not only track time but produce bills directly from the tracked time. This software not only enables you to track time but also track progress on tasks and the billing totals from the different tasks at hand. Using these software doesn’t take any more time than scribbling on a piece of paper.

Develop a standard set of codes and abbreviations for frequently used terms
Create your own system, or use a previously developed system such as the Uniform Task-Based Management System so you can quickly record a short but accurate description of work performed as you move through your day. At the end of the day or first thing the next morning, then flesh out the description. Avoid needless detail if such specificity tends to devalue the work . Instead of "e-mail" or "fax," use "correspondence," or at least "e-mail correspondence" or "facsimile correspondence." Instead of "dictate" or "draft," use "prepare." Instead of "revise," use "further prepare."

Motivate yourself
Like any new habit that is being practiced for the first time, there will be challenges in time keeping. There will be days when you will not have recorded many hours or an entire day. The important thing is not to be harsh with yourself. Instead remind yourself the merits of time keeping and just get back on the horse and ride gain. On the other hand, when you find yourself having done well, reward yourself.

Use reminders
When you start keeping track of time contemporaneously, use reminders you like a sticky note on the inside of your office door at eye level with a reminder that timekeeping is a new priority for you.

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