Ten Ways to Improve Billable Hours
Capturing the billable hour is a challenge in every law firm, but with a few habits and procedures in place, coupled with today’s technology, it doesn’t have to be so bad. Gone are the days where an attorney had to hand write every task on a time sheet and give it to his or her assistant to manually enter into the billing system. Today, attorneys and paralegals can easily enter their own time into the firm’s billing system to streamline the billing process and enable the timekeepers and their firm to capture a better and more accurate portion of the work they are performing.
Create a Policy
If your policy and goals are not defined, they will not be met.
It is important that you have support from leadership and that leadership leads by example.
Concurrent = Accurate = Client Trust
Studies show time not kept concurrently results in a 30% loss of time.
One hour lost per day at $350/hour results in $91,000 lost annually, per attorney.
Use a User Friendly Time & Billing Program
iTimekeep, for example, syncs with more than 30 popular time and billing platforms – it allows attorneys to dictate their time through an app on their phone or Apple watch when they are out of the office.
Shift Annual Reporting to November – October
If you start the annual reporting period in November, timekeepers may start their annual billing cycle in the hole during the holiday months, but that’s okay. This will encourage them to focus on catching up early in the year, in January and February, when firms need productivity the most.
This also allows timekeepers to do catch-up in September and October if they are behind their annual goal at year-end, instead of struggling to catch up during heavy holiday months. They will thank you for this!
Give Your Attorneys a Billing Calculator
A billing calculator helps attorneys track their year-to-date hours v. goal. This helps them to be a participant in tracking their time and having accountability for meeting their annual goal.
This prevents any misunderstandings or confusion – everyone stays on the same page as to where the attorney’s YTD balance is.
Require All Time To Be Entered By the End of the Day
Anything missing should be caught up and in the system by the end of the week at the latest.
Firm Manager Should Provide Month-To-Date Reports to Each Timekeeper Each Monday Morning
By providing timekeepers with a calendar view of their hours, they can quickly see a snapshot of any time they may be missing.
Capture All Time, Including Non-Billable
Task codes for non-billable tasks such as business development, internal meetings, training of other personnel allow you to track how your timekeepers are using their time when not performing billable tasks and keeps them in the habit of tracking everything they are doing. This also allows them to see where their time is going so that they do not become discouraged.
Use Your Billing System’s Timer
Using the automatic timer keeps your time spent on a task calculated automatically and allows you to pause the timer during interruptions.
Always Track Time for Flat Fee and Contingency Matters
You may need this for fee petitions.
Tracking your time on these matters is important, as it is the only way you can accurately analyze profitability on certain types of cases.
To learn more about creating your firm’s billing protocols, check out our Law Firm Finance Level 1 Course.