Imagine a bustling law office, papers strewn across desks, phones ringing off the hook, and attorneys dashing from one meeting to another like caffeine-fueled superheroes.
Amidst all this chaos, there's an unassuming little hero waiting to save the day – time tracking software.
But can something as mundane as time tracking really be so critical for attorneys? Does it deserve its own cape and spotlight in today's fast-paced legal world?
Let’s talk about it.
Managing time entries: A difficult task for attorneys
It can be challenging to remember every minute spent working on a case, especially if the attorney has multiple clients or cases they are juggling at once. This leads to inaccurate record keeping and billing – leading to unhappy clients, lost profits from underbilling, and even potential legal repercussions.
Enter time tracking software: an innovative tool that provides attorneys with accurate records of their billable hours as they work on cases. With this type of software, legal professionals can enter all their billable time for activities like research, phone calls, meetings
Here, we will discuss the benefits of using time tracking software for lawyers and why it is so critical to success in today’s legal environment.
Remember learning how to build a case? Don't worry; no jurisprudence is needed to prove the value of time trackers.
3 reasons time tracking is important for legal teams
A 2020 Statista study revealed that a staggering 75% of attorneys spend 20 hours or more each week on non-client-facing work, such as administrative tasks, research, and communication. Despite this, the legal services industry – traditionally conservative in its approach to technology – has been reluctant to adopt it due to confidentiality and security concerns.
Nevertheless, there are numerous compelling arguments for why time tracking software is essential for attorneys. Here are reasons that make an irrefutable case:
1. Efficient resource management
Time tracking software provides a powerful way for lawyers to maximize their billable hours, analyze resources, set and review goals, identify areas of improvement, and develop budgeting strategies.
With features like instant, detailed reports at their disposal, attorneys can easily monitor their billable hours and gain valuable insights into how they are allocating their time. This helps them make the most of every hour and achieve better financial results in the long run – and that’s a win for everyone.
Furthermore, law firms can use the same reports to measure performance and make sure their goals are being met.
2. Streamlined billing, invoicing, and admin processes
In capturing and recording billable hours, which is the prevailing form of legal payment, attorneys can ensure their clients are accurately billed for their services. Time tracking software helps them eliminate manual data and time entries and automate the entire billing process.
This ensures that a law firm exports invoices accurately and on time – something that’s especially important in a heavily regulated industry.
Meanwhile, lawyers can save even more time by using the software to streamline administrative processes. For instance, law firms can facilitate HR operations, such as payroll, with a click of a button.
Doing so is easy, as time tracking platforms feature built-in integrations with popular accounting and payroll software. Instead of wasting time on mundane tasks, attorneys can focus on more important (and profitable) activities.
Let's say your software lets you tag and categorize projects, tasks, clients, and more. One good example is assigning codes to different types of billing activities. Some categories could be:
- Research and writing
- Court appearances
- Client meetings
- Consultations via phone calls, etc.
In this example, research and writing could be written as “R&W,” court appearances as “CA,” client meetings as “CM,” and so on. This is followed by a unique number code.
By implementing this categorization, you can easily determine exactly what type of activity was conducted for each client. This way, attorneys can accurately track time and access detailed information immediately without hassle.
3. Improved client relationship
A time tracker's reporting capabilities enable lawyers to provide clients with detailed information about how they are spending their time and the associated costs. This helps build trust and loyalty between the attorney and client, as it gives them much-needed transparency for their legal services.
In addition, legal professionals can use detailed reports to keep their clients informed about any changes in cost or timeline, thus improving customer satisfaction levels overall.
For example, if a lawyer needs to change the scope of work for a project due to unforeseen developments, they can use the platform to show their clients how and why the changes are necessary. This helps ensure that both parties are on the same page and reduces any tensions between them.
Aside from offering these three benefits, such tools also help lawyers adhere to state guidelines such as Fair Labor Standards Act regulations, which require employers to keep accurate records of employee hours worked. By using time trackers, attorneys can easily ensure they are compliant and avoid any potential legal issues.
How to choose the best time tracking software for lawyers
Now that you know the benefits of using a time tracking platform, it's time to explore how to choose the best one for your law firm.
With such platforms having cloud-based capabilities, you can ensure that you have access to real-time data, no matter where your entire team is located or which device they are using. This helps lawyers' hourly rates remain accurate and consistent across the board, as well as giving them the power to track hours right when they work them.
To choose the most suitable time tracking software, you should consider factors specific to what a law firm needs, such as:
Security and privacy
Look for a platform that has stringent security measures in place to protect sensitive data and ensure it remains confidential. Specifically, you should check for key features such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and user access control.
Technical support in place
If you encounter any glitches or issues, it's important to have a reliable technical support team available. Look for platforms that offer 24/7 customer service and are responsive in their responses to queries. Better yet, check out online reviews from other law firms to see how they rate the platform's customer service.
Since you may offer different types of legal services to various clients, your rates and billing system should also be tailored to suit. Look for a platform that allows you to set up custom billing rates based on specific criteria, such as client type or practice area.
This will help streamline the entire process and make it easier for clients to understand your fees.
Integrations with other software
Time tracking platforms should come with integrations that allow them to sync with other systems used in law firms, such as law practice management software, document management tools, or even browser extensions.
Such key features ensure all data is accurately shared between different systems, thus saving time and effort when it comes to managing multiple processes.
Try to look for a platform that comes with integrations to popular third-party payment gateways, such as Stripe and PayPal. This way, clients can easily pay their invoices online using their preferred methods, and lawyers can receive payments faster.
Reporting and analytic capabilities
Gaining valuable insights is key to understanding how your firm is performing, and time tracking tools can provide you with valuable metrics. The best platforms out there offer detailed reporting capabilities, allowing you to quickly generate reports on anything from hourly rates to task breakdowns. The faster and more efficiently you can access such information, the better.
Finding a platform that is intuitive and easy to use is priceless. You don't want to spend hours trying to understand how a system works or how to input billable time when you could be doing more productive tasks. Instead, opt for one with a simple interface and key features that make it easy to track hours without the need for extensive training.
With the revenue trend of the legal industry steadily increasing, you may want to consider a time tracking platform that can easily scale with your firm's needs. Look for one that allows you to add unlimited users and features as your business grows so that the system is always up-to-date.
Although we put this aspect at the bottom of our list, it is still important to consider. Different platforms come with different price points and features, so make sure you choose one that fits your budget while also offering all the functions you need. Don't forget to check for any hidden costs or additional fees so that there are no surprises down the line.
You should also take advantage of free 30-day trials, which can help you get a better idea of how the system works and check all of the above-mentioned criteria.
Track time with Harvest: A tool tailored for law firms
At Harvest, we’ve been augmenting the workflow of companies across all types of industries for over 15 years. Harvest is our cloud-based time tracking and invoicing platform designed to help law firms accurately track and report employee time, manage client projects, create invoices, and collect payments.
With our intuitive and simple interface, lawyers can easily log their hours on the go with just a few clicks. Plus, it comes with integrations to popular tools, such as Outlook, Google Chrome, Slack, and Quickbooks.
Need to create retainers quickly? We also make it easy to set up custom billing rates and create invoices on the fly. This way, you can easily keep track of your time and ensure that your clients are billed accurately.
In the spirit of making sure that lawyers can stay organized, transparent, and efficient, Harvest also offers an array of reporting features. Quickly make detailed reports and analytics on time, expenses, and invoices.
We understand that you need security when it comes to storing sensitive data, and Harvest offers just that. Learn more about our security certificates and how we keep your data safe by visiting our Security and Privacy Page.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive time tracking and invoicing platform designed specifically for law firms (and even flexible enough to fit any other industry), then look no further than Harvest. Join more than 70,000 customers who trust us to help them succeed.
Sign up now to get your free trial; no credit card required.
Legal teams who implement a time tracking tool benefit from more efficient resource management, streamlined billing & invoicing processes, and improved client relationships from more transparent cost structures.
Modern legal billing software should significantly reduce the need to manually enter data, time entries, and invoicing. Automated time tracking and invoicing tools like Harvest allow legal teams to automatically capture time from their desktop and on-the-go via mobile apps, and then create branded invoices and expense reports at the push of a button. Your billing software should also integrate with popular tools like PayPal and Stripe, allowing clients to quickly and conveniently pay invoices online.