Lawyers love language. They dig it! It is probably why they became lawyers in the first place. So why bother lawyers with long lists of task codes for your project management if you can let them use what they love?

This blog is part of a series: Digging for Gold. A series of blogs written by our CTO, Bram Fokke, on how to turn your existing rarely used data into a treasure chest.

One of the most elementary questions to be asked when analysing a matter is: “What happened in this case”? If it is your own case, you may remember it. Otherwise you will have to ask one of your colleagues. It becomes harder when the case was closed five years ago. Or was handled by lawyers in one of the other offices of your firm. Your time tracking database should help you out here:

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For a small matter this could work, but it does not provide you a real overview. For matters with hundreds or even thousands of time tracking records, this list with time entries is not that comprehensive. Printed out, it would take hundreds of pages. We need another way to summarize the amounts of time accounted for.

We use task codes for that!
Most firms that we speak with – and that are setting up project management practices – use ‘task codes’ (or similar names). A lawyer will have to pick the correct task code from a list. A daunting exercise if the number of codes runs into the tens or even hundreds. Once every minute has been supplied with the correct code, this enables a firm to prepare an overview of the work performed. Adjacent functionality such as preparing and monitoring budgets could be based on these task codes. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It could work. In theory.
Unfortunately, real life is a bit more of a struggle. Assigning task codes is a manual job and often things go wrong. If there is an ‘other’ code, lawyers tend to use that code a lot ignoring the purpose of using codes. Sometimes different task codes are used across different matters for the same type of work, which reduces the value of using these codes for any comparative purposes to zero.

But it does not.
What may be even worse is a situation where a lawyer records time on a task code that does not represent the type of work performed. It often happens and makes it impossible to monitor the scope of any budget.

The solution
Lawyers did not go to law school to end up spending time on appending codes to time tracking records. The solution is to not bother lawyers with this task code classification, but let computers do it. Clocktimizer has developed an automatic algorithm that does the hard work for you. If a lawyer just writes down in plain language what he or she did, Clocktimizer can assign the right type of work to each time tracking record.

This way it is possible to have a automatically generated one-page overview of what work has been done in a particular matter. Regardless whether this is about a matter you are working on right now, whether it is a matter from 2009 or whether it is a matter of the Hong Kong office.

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This insight is not only good for lawyers, it will also benefit clients. Clients all ask for more transparency and this is how you can provide them with it. Invoice disputes easily result in discounts of 10% to 20%. If you could get rid of these discounts, how’s that for a gold mine?