lawyer time tracking

You’re not a scientist or an analyst, so you may be doubtful that data collection can do anything for your firm. You are not alone. Since the orators of Greece till modern day, we have had little legal industry data to look at. However, with the shift in technology in the legal profession, data has begun to appear. And the discoveries are shocking.

The Truth About Tracking Billable Hours

Clio, a technological software built to help lawyers with time management and organization, released their first “Legal Trends” report in 2016, with a second released in the fall of last year. These two reports contain an analysis of data collected from their 40,000+ attorney clients. While their reports are thick one-inch print outs – yes, I printed them both, I am no friend of the forests now – one piece of information sticks out as especially disconcerting.

In 2016, lawyers only logged an average of 2.2 hours of billable time per day, and only billed 1.8. This result is supported in their second legal trends report, which collected data from an additional 20,000 lawyers.

Right now you may be saying ‘Not me. I’m different.’ To which I need to ask, how do you know?

As a lawyer, you understand that you cannot solely trust a person’s self-reported version of events due to bias. And our ability to not trust lawyers on their billable hours is proven. In 2012, lawyers were self-reporting numbers closer to 6.9 for an average 8.9 hour workday. Studying the quantitative numbers, such as Clio did, removes this bias. If you don’t have the numbers, you cannot be certain that a large portion of your day is not spent on non-billable work.

Scrutinizing minds may be wary of how Clio can benefit from releasing this report. Obviously, they are using this example of non-billable hours to prove to potential clients that time management is key, and, how convenient, Clio is there to help. However, don’t forget that all the lawyers included in this study are already using Clio.

One can infer most of these lawyers also take care to control their time, stay organized, etc. That’s why they turned to Clio in the first place. Which makes me wonder, how bad are the numbers for those who don’t have a clue?

How do lawyers track billable hours?

We suggest you start collecting the data yourself to learn just how productive you truly are. You can sign up for a program such as Clio or go the traditional route and use pen and paper.

  • Mark the time you start
  • Note what case you are working on
  • Note specifics on the work – document review, research, memos, etc.
  • Mark the time you stop, – and why you stopped. Was it a phone call? An issue with your printer? Another case at the back of your mind?

Interruptions are often the culprit of lost work time, so once you know the reasons you stopped working, you can work towards solutions to fixing them. Set specific hours where you answer calls and speak to clients. Go paperless. Practice your focus techniques through meditation.

But to refine your processes, it all starts with collecting that data.

See how Amata Law Office Suites can help you become more efficient in your day-to-day. With access to more than just office space, you can finally focus on what you need to – billable hours.


Kirsten Mayfield

Kirsten Mayfield, Director of First Impressions with Amata Office Solutions

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