Automated Timekeeping for Law Firms: 3 Unprecedented Benefits of Greater Accuracy

Blog post originally shared on Iridium Technology is now part of BigHand. Learn more here.

Many law firm leaders now look for timekeeping software that offers automated time tracking and time entry capabilities because the software autonomously pre-populates attorney timesheets more accurately than manual methods. Automation eliminates many error-prone, manual timekeeping tasks. As a result, it increases productivity, streamlines billing processes, increases revenue, and saves costs.

But when you need to get buy-in to purchase new timekeeping software, how can you describe how you’ll achieve those benefits?

Let’s look at three ways modern timekeeping software helps your firm increase time tracking and entry accuracy, which empowers attorneys and firm leaders to be much more precise while:

  • Calculating client and matter profitability rates to develop more profitable pricing strategies. 
  • Generating constantly worded and properly detailed timesheets. 
  • Showing corporate clients that you’re on their side when it comes to managing cost-effective legal services. 

Law Firm Timekeeping Software Helps You Capture More Activities Overall.

An automated “time capture” tool adds many brief tasks into timesheets that timekeepers often forget or neglect to include on their own. Whether the tasks are billable or non-billable, they are typically required to deliver effective legal services, and they add up through the days and weeks.  

Why enter non-billable tasks into your system? Not including them leaves a massive void in your view of firm operations. 

Nearly 80% of law firms wish to calculate client profitability, and 50% want to measure matter profitability. To determine either rate, you need a 360-degree view of all the resources it takes to provide a specific legal service or bring a particular type of case or matter to a close. It’s the only way to factor in all the related costs.  

You may opt not to bill every entry. But you need a comprehensive and detailed picture of all the work that goes into providing services to gauge client and matter profitability, develop more precise forecasts and allocations for client and matter budgets, and protect profits when pricing alternate and flat fees.  

Generate Consistently Worded, Detailed Time Entries.

You determine the language your automated timekeeping system uses to describe activities. Then, the software automatically populates time entries using your preset language to describe activities such as “meeting with,” “call from,” “send email to,” or “review and revise.”  

The software can also cross-reference firm systems to add participant names. You get fuller narratives like “call from Cynthia at Tech Global” and “review and revise Tech Global Subpoena”.  

Clients appreciate and are less likely to reject consistently worded, highly detailed billing narratives. Plus, each name, time period, task code, and activity type become a data point you can use to evaluate performance and optimize strategic initiatives. Discover who collaborates with whom, how often, and on what matter types. Connections among clients and lawyers often reveal opportunities for new referrals and additional client work. 

Compliance with outside Counsel Guidelines Improves Client Service.

Your firm’s compliance with outside counsel guidelines (OCGs) enables corporate clients to analyze structured performance data and gain visibility into their legal spend. They can examine factors such as the overall time spent on document review for a case, each matter’s partner/associate ratio, and how attorneys used their time on each matter.  

Compliant invoices can communicate compelling details about a law firm’s competencies, efficiencies, and cost-effectiveness. Yet, according to a 2021 report, only 32% of law firm leaders can say that more than half of their lawyers know the guidelines for their matters.  

Automated time entry software helps law firms meet OCGs more precisely with ease. Enforce a multitude of OCGs down to the case, and matter levels by customizing your timekeeping software to: 

  • require specific phase, task, and activity codes for clients and matters, 
  • track hourly limits and exclude specific activities and expenses,  
  • use preset language in auto-generated time entry narratives,  
  • reject any non-compliant entry before it goes into the billing system, and 
  • suggest how to resolve non-compliant entries so timekeepers can move on quickly.

What if You Helped Your Clients Get What They Want?

Controlling outside counsel costs is the top priority for 87% of legal department leaders, according to the 2021 Legal Department Operations Index by Thomson Reuters. 86% of legal departments say enforcing billing guidelines to reduce invoice fees and expenses is the best method to control costs. More than half of legal departments also review high-cost matters and ask for standard rate discounts.  

It’s tempting to disparage these efforts, but let’s ask “What if?”  

  • What if you helped your clients get what they want?  
  • What if you enabled clients to assess cost-control measures accurately? 
  • What if clients were grateful for helping them do a better job? 

Enable business clients to compare key performance indicators from your firm to those of other firms so they can better understand where your firm shines. The more accurate your data is, the brighter you’re likely to shine.  

  • What if your business clients saw your firm as a valuable, cost-efficient business partner rather than just a cost center?  

Meanwhile, you’re also correcting time entry errors early to avoid protracted e-billing revise-resubmit cycles and speed up payments.  

About BigHand SmartTime

BigHand SmartTime is an AI-powered tool designed to streamline the timekeeping process in your law firm by automating time capture and time entry. Your timekeepers can finalise accurate AI-generated timesheets in minutes, not hours. The billable hour accuracy and time saved help reduce write-offs, get you paid faster, and as a result, help generate more revenue.

BigHand SmartTime