Good practice management is never an exact science. Client’s wishes, likes and dislikes vary from case to case. The workload can also swing from intensive all-nighters to slow cases which last years. Too often lawyers find themselves unsure of how far work has progressed, or where they are in terms of budget. To help avoid this, we at Clocktimizer have put together a few things that help firms stay in control of their case loads.
Communication should be ongoing
By this, we do not simply mean that lawyers should stay in touch with clients about the important legal developments in the case. Where clients are kept informed of what their lawyers are up to each step of the way, they are more confident in the work of their counsel. This means both the big developments which require client input, and the smaller individual tasks. Better still, they won’t be surprised about what they are billed for once the case is wrapped up.
Don’t discount on billing. If you do, do it on the go
Discounts are part and parcel of invoicing. However, where lawyers keep good records of costs and expenditure as they go along, they can also discount as and when necessary. Ideally, you can break down a case into phases, assign budget and work to each and discount accordingly. This gives you more oversight than cutting your bills dramatically at the end of the project. Additionally, you will start building data on what work has high realisation and which doesn’t. You can also reassign budget, or even renegotiate for out of scope work before completion.
Client queries are not discount demands
Querying a bill, particularly for services, is fairly standard procedure. Clients want to know what services were rendered in detail, after all. However this is too often equated with a demand for a discount within the legal profession. Before you start bringing out the scissors, first send your clients a detailed break down of the work. Obviously this means you’ll need to keep good records of the work first. However that shouldn’t be a problem if you followed our first point!
Timekeeping should be easy
Many firms have their own time tracking solutions. A lot of them are now getting on in years and in the mean time user design has come a long way. Given how much money firms lose yearly to poor timekeeping (our own research suggests upwards of 12%) you should make it as easy as possible. Look at alternative timekeeping options. If you have built your own solution, really test how easy it is to record time on the fly. Is your categorisation simple? Do you have autocomplete? Or ‘recently used’ fields? The easier you make recording time, the less you lose to poor time tracking and ultimately from your bottom line.
Whilst it is certainly possible to follow all these tips using nothing more than spreadsheets and monumental amounts of determination, there are easier ways. Tools like Clocktimizer exist to manage budgets, client queries and projects. There are numerous timekeeping applications out there all looking to make recording your hours manageable. To get a better idea of what legal tech is out there to take the pain out of projects, take a look at our blog here.
Want a run down of the top legal tech available right now? Keep an eye on our blog next week where we run through our favourite 12 tech tools. They can improve your firm in everything from document generation to compliance. We’ll also be releasing everything in a handy infographic next Friday!