“Where were you last Wednesday at 4:00PM and what were you working on?”
This question is not a reference to the podcast Serial, but a good example of how legal professionals are often tracking their time.
When attorneys, paralegals and staff wait until the end of the day, week, or month to start tracking their time it’s much like a puzzle attempting to get all of the pieces in order. Flipping through phone call logs or sent emails can help track a few of the pieces. But what about that document edit you made yesterday or time you worked on cases from home?
In the big picture, billable hours are floating away from firms daily. When reconstructing your day-to-day tasks onto a timesheet you’ll find the exercise is tedious, time intensive, and often leaves you scratching your head. Time capture can be difficult, but if you constantly find yourself recreating past time entries, it is also not productive.
Countless studies have pointed out that legal professionals are more profitable and capture time more accurately when tracking time contemporaneously (or passively).
Today, there are applications and tools to assist in the live time capture we all strive to attain. Stopwatch features provide firms with exact time-tracking results designed to provide accurate time entries. Keep in mind; you’ll always want the solution that is easiest for you and your firm. Integration directly to your practice management software, time, billing or accounting program can be a huge time-saver. Not having to cut and paste or recreate time descriptions will make time entry a ‘one stop shop.’
Below is a list of our favorites:
Chrometa is a simple program that runs in the background of your computer and automatically tracks the time you spend performing different tasks, such as drafting emails, creating a word document, or compiling a spreadsheet. For attorneys in particular, Chrometa makes it easy to capture billable work and meet, or even exceed, firm quotas. Reporting capabilities include unlimited exporting functionality to Excel and invoicing. Some packages include exporting to Clio or QuickBooks.
Cost: Individual and Team price plans range from $12-$29 per month and are based on number of devices syncing
Toggl allows for an easy access timer, label options and the ability to open older time entries to restart the timer. This is ideal for a desktop computer and especially tracking time on document generation. Toggl offers email or print reporting options along with a weekly summary email.
Cost: Free for teams up to 5; $5 per user per month for Pro
Designed for Amicus Attorney Premium Edition users, Amicus TimeTracker was released in 2013 with the mobile timesheet in mind. Add time on the go through their web portal. Each person has their own log-in that syncs with their desktop application instantly. Reporting is done within the desktop model.
Cost: Free / Included in the annual maintenance package
Popular amongst the legal community, iTimeKeep allows for simple, mobile time entry and has strong integration points. They stress an easy adaption and ease of use regardless of your technology background. iTimeKeep connects time to a majority of time and billing systems, including Amicus Attorney, Tabs3, Time Mattes, PCLaw, ProLaw, LawBase, Juris, and many more.
Cost: Varies by firm size. You’ll need to contact their sales team for more information.
TimeCamp is a timesheet tool with Mac and Windows apps for easy addition of time based on activities or projects. Internal reporting functionality includes an audit log, but not as many popular integration points. For a larger firm, linking to their accounting program may be difficult.
Cost: Free for Freelancers; or $6 per user per month for companies
My last recommendation for anyone looking for a resource to better track time is to review your existing software! Many popular practice management programs include timer functionality when creating time entries including Clio, ActionStep and Amicus Attorney Premium Edition. PCLaw’s Time Entry Advisor or the Slip Timer in TimeSlips are both tools available directly in billing programs with no need to post time. As with any software purchase; try out the program with a free trial, review your existing software and don’t waste your time doing endless research – ask your IT consultant!