We identified time tracking practices that give lawyers, managers and counsel a headache. Luckily, we have some painkillers for you: We will give you tips to avoid these pitfalls.
Number 3: Lost time is never found again
I often hear lawyers say that they did not record all hours, because they felt that they were spending too much time on a particular job. There are at least three reasons why not accounting for every hour is a bad idea:
- You will never know how much time you really spent on that work, so you will be providing bad estimates and quotes over and over again and you will not know whether the work is actually worth doing.
- If in the end you have budget left while you could have reached budget by recording your time properly, you are throwing money away.
- If you spent too much time on something and you do not want to bill the time; Wrap it as a gift and use it as a marketing tool.
Number 2: Seeing is believing
In time tracking data we regularly encounter narratives such as: ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘various activities’. Sometimes narratives are just empty. If a client has a question on how you spent the time, with these sort of narratives it will be hard to explain what you did. I know clients who will simply strike those time entries from the bill. That is bad for business.
Number 1: Who comes late, lodges ill
Recorcing your time only once a month or once a week. You should record your time every day. You may recognize this scenario: A client asks for an interim update on the fees and you provide the figure. Two weeks later the client receives the bill, which is much higher than the amount in the update. It appears that one of your team members ‘forgot’ to record time on a daily basis. Clients hate this. You hate this too because:
- The number of days that you are waiting for payment will increase.
- It reduces the client’s willingness to pay and probably the client will not pay the full bill.
- It hurts the relationship with your client and may prevent future business with this client.
How can you avoid these pitfalls?
The good thing is that you control these practices yourself. Here are some tips to improve them:
- Monitor the time recording performance well. Measure is Treasure.
- Fix bad habits. We recommend to take an encouraging approach. For instance by setting up a leaderboard for your best performers. People, and lawyers in particular, are quite competitive and want to be number one in the game.
- Share good news. For instance if you receive a client’s compliment about your transparency.
- Reach out to notorious underperformers in person.
If you have more tips, please feel free to share them in the comments!