Undoubtedly, the legal industry is growing at an impressive pace, especially in regions like the US and the UK. And when we talk about the most challenging task in the legal industry as a lawyer, billable hours hold a gold. The billable hours act vital for most lawyers and law firms. It defines the criteria for measuring valuable input lawyers put in a case and getting compensated for tasks completed in the case. However, it can be a struggle when the firm’s cash debits don’t match the billable hours.
To resolve this challenge it’s important to implement strategies that can maximize billable hours for you or your law firm. Oftentimes, attorneys don’t even recognize that they have inefficiency gaps in their time tracking and billing processes. They only have a feeling of not getting compensated for their work and feel overworked. Before implementing strategies to maximize your firm’s billable hours be sure to analyze the patterns and processes that are currently followed in your firm so that you can accurately find areas of improvement. Then, consider a number of the subsequent tips to maximize your law firm’s billable hours.
As a lawyer, you’re keenly conscious of what percentage hours you bill on a regular day.
Billable hours are surely a motivation for any law firm and the key to a successful legal business. And for your better half of knowledge, there are ways to maximize them without sacrificing your sanity or personal life.
1. Utilize Document Templates
As a belief, lawyers and legal professionals’ major work is to investigate and prepare for the courtroom. But, what people tend to overlook is that it also includes a huge amount of paperwork while one is preparing for a case.
Lawyers deal in a business of creating, filling, and updating forms and documents. But despite this being a core part of the task, document creation is often where law firms spend countless hours and roadblock their productivity. Most attorneys don’t have precise drafting technology and spend hours creating documents from scratch or attaching templates from old documents.
It is advisable to have standard document templates kept to be used as the basis for document creation. But as all lawyers know, rules in the legal sector are ever-changing, and so are the law firms. Everything from standard clauses to a firm’s branding will ultimately need to be updated with time. Your investment in best-practice templates will be completely wasted if those templates grow obsolete and outdated.
But like any other problem there’s a way out to this as well. A vital productivity hack for increasing the billable hours is to get document management software. A software that carries out the job of maintaining documents and giving customizable document templates.
2. Delegation Of Tasks
A key for increasing billable hours is when you have a well-set strategic delegation of tasks in your organization. Delegation of tasks does not necessarily mean that you need to hire high-end professionals. You can delegate duties strategically to your current employees. You have employees for a reason to support you.
Delegate less important, non-billable administrative tasks to your employees for e.g. assigning all call making duties to your receptionist. Also you may hire paralegals dealing with less profitable tasks which bills at a lower hourly rate.
Save the most profitable tasks for the highest billing members of your firm. To maximize most of your billable hours, make sure you’re delegating and not doing something that a paralegal could be doing.
3. Adapting Automation
To get in a close combat with productivity challenges you need the right tool – Automation. Automation can help you in countless ways, one of which can be increasing the billable hours in your firm. If you are a solo attorney who doesn’t have other support staff to assist them in non-billable tasks, automation can be the tool they can rely on.
Even if you are a firm and you want your employees to focus completely on clients and more important details of the case, having an automation tool will act as an added assistance in increasing your billable hours.
There are countless options available in the market for practice management solutions where you can get features like automation of emails, document management, automated invoicing, bulk invoicing generator, client management, LEDES billing format, and much more. You just need to shortlist software according to the needs and size of your firm.
4. Effective Time Tracking
While working on a case, legal professionals tend to overlook small details. To find gaps in your working cycle it’s essential to know time distribution among different tasks.
You might have a perception that billable hours can offer you everything. However, non-billable time can show you just as much about what is happening within your firm. To increase your billable hours you need to look where you can reduce your time in nonbillable hours and use the gained time in completing billable tasks.
Have all employees track their whole working schedule, whether billable hours or not. When you have a clear view of minute time details, you can properly analyze and prepare strategically. Being precise, use your resources and increase your billable hours. There may be a scenario where your junior associate is spending too much time on a task that your secretary can handle. A proper analysis of time can give you insights into where improvement is needed.
5. A Uniform Tracking Procedure
Proper and precise time tracking doesn’t just fall on one member of the firm. It must apply to an entire team working in an organization. Take a thought of what proportion of money is potentially lost when time isn’t adequately tracked.
By creating and sharing a widespread policy, you communicate the importance of accurate time tracking among every member of the firm. Drafting a written policy can significantly affect the time tracking process of your legal practice to maximize billable hours in a day.
Create a policy that needs time entry on task completion. Then, implement a system for the weekly review of your time entered, in order that gaps are often quickly identified and addressed. Also, set a typical legal billing procedure, so invoices leave on a daily basis.
6. Record Your Tasks On Completion
Lawyers have countless tasks to be crossed off their tasks sheet, the constant stress of deadlines, in events like these remembering the work you do is quite difficult.
Don’t wait till the end of the day to mark your tasks as completed and record the time spent on client tasks. In constant stress, we tend to forget and it’s not reliable, which creates a strong possibility of inaccurate start and stop times.
You may forget that you made a few calls in the morning while filling up a legal contract, instead of waiting to record tasks and time as that are completed throughout the day. This way it is much easier and convenient for time tracking. Also, it helps you to boost your productivity by simplifying your task sheet. You don’t need to hover on to find which tasks need to be done and which are completed.
7. Productivity With Right Time Tracking Software
There is no shortage of time tracking software in the legal automation market. Having the right software is as important as implementing strategies to increase the billable time. Shortlisting a time tracking software can be an exhausting job, however having the right time tracking software is essential for the proper working of your firm.
While you look for a time tracking software, make sure to look for features like time tracking between switching of applications. Or offline tracking of time, or you are someone who works on the go, then look for time tracking software that has a robust mobile app. If you use integrations, then having a time tracking software that has integration you usually use while working.
It will save your time in switching applications for basic work. The right tool will help you streamline your workflow and save time so you can focus more on client work.
Legal industry is not an easy game to win, no matter whether you’re practicing solo or as a law firm. Time is a valuable and a resourceful asset. Billable hours are not just criteria to get paid but also a valuable input, hard work, and tasks you do.Increased billable hours will provide monetary benefits and will also increase your productivity. Also having a good law firm management software can help you a lot in boosting your productivity and keeping a proper record of your time spent whether billable or not billable.