February 13, 2020 / 11:00AM / Sponsored Post / Pete
McAllister / Header Image Credit: The New York Times
One of the biggest bugaboos for lawyers is billing clients. And the most difficult aspect of billing? It's tracking time.
Having an accurate time tracking system is extremely important to make sure you are not overbilling or underbilling your clients. It becomes even more important if you are a lawyer that shares time records with your clients.
Way too many lawyers are going by memory to bill their clients. This is inefficient and often inaccurate.
In this article, we will go over the hows and whys you need to track your time for your billing system to work best.
Benefits of Time Tracking
Just about every lawyer is paid per hour of work done on the clients behalf. It's the most common system for billing clients because it is the one that works best.
There are many different legal jobs with their unique set of challenges and tracking time is needed to make sure that billing is done correctly. More often than not, a lawyer is overbilling their clients because time was not tracked properly.
That may seem like a good thing, but it is not. A client can sue if they feel they have been overbilled and if your records are not accurate, then they have a pretty good case.
Billing makes sure that everything is on the up and up and you never have to waste time with billing questions or challenges.
Use a Time Tracker Software
There are so many time tracker apps out there these days that it doesn't make sense to not use one. Even a simple employee time tracker works just fine.
Have it set to different types of billing hours so you can accurately see how much time was dedicated to each part of the case. You can segment your work into categories so you know that you spent X amount of time in a phone call and X amount of time for other tasks.
They will essentially be time stamped and then can be downloaded as a CSV to be imported into a spreadsheet or sent over to your billing department.
If you have recurring projects, you can always refer to the software or corresponding spreadsheet to understand how much time each type of client will need and you can budget your time accordingly.
Calendar and Email
Using a calendar and email still has its place but there are loads of downsides.
A benefit of using a calendar, is that it is easy to see at a glance when things were planned. It also helps to integrate with your time tracker. Maybe you missed a meeting or a phone call with a client that you can see by the calendar was actually done.
It is very possible to forget to turn the tracker on when starting a task. The downside is that usually you donâ€™t write down on the calendar how long each task took. You use the calendar to plan your time, so it is ill equipped to actually track the time spent on that part of your project.
Email is still relevant as you can see by the timestamp when it was completed. And you can bill for a certain amount of time for sending emails as part of a standard rate. It all depends on the type of email.
Though, if you are sitting down at a PC to write an email, it is easy to hit the button on the time tracker to make sure you are accurate in how you are billing for your time to write an email.
Working with your Tracker
One of the biggest benefits to using a time tracker is to have an at a glance view of how your time is being spent to keep your workflow going.
Sorting through emails and trying to use a calendar is not a good use of your time. It kills productivity and affects your workflow tremendously. Even if you have a person other than yourself doing the billing, it is not at all efficient to have them looking at calendars, checking email time stamps and asking you how long you were on the phone with a client on a given date.
Don't leave any money on the table by improper time tracking and billing. At the same time, you donâ€™t want to be overbilling and causing problems for your clients and yourself.
Use technology to make your life easier. It will take time to get used to, but you will love not doing things the old way.
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