The essence of TIME
Just like a river, that meanders along its journey, before its eventual rendezvous with the open water-body, time too moves in a similar staggering fashion, sometimes too quickly and sometimes hardly at all. For anyone embracing law as a profession, time is of great essence. The process of planning and managing the time devoted to something is called Time Management. Time Tracking aids in time management. However, time tracking, as a primary concern, is yet to arrest the attention of lawyers.
Whether you are a law firm—big or small, or a sole practitioner, proper planning and management could increase productivity and efficiency by leaps and bounds. The greatest drawback of malnourished time management is the wastage of billable hours.
Time Management and Time Tracking
So why are legal practitioners so ambivalent towards the concept of time tracking and management? The answer is quite simple actually, and that is the traditional outlook that is prevalent in the system. We are, sadly, a slave to our traditional concepts of looking at law as just an end of things, and not as a means to an end.
Billing the clients by the hour is one of the myriad ways of billing employed by law firms. Most law firms are yet to stop using ‘pen and paper’ for time tracking and time management. Some of the incessant difficulties of the ‘pen and paper’ way are:
- The paperwork involved is extremely cumbersome.
- They may not always be too accurate. Most firms require their lawyers to fill a ‘timesheet’. This sheet charts the time spent during work hours. Very often the lawyers fill the timesheet at the end of the day, or after many days. Naturally, the human mind is quite fickle and it is possible to forget exact details.
- The paperwork is prone to security risks. A host of reasons such as fire or water-spillage, etc., could be potential threats to such documentation.
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Since the legal profession is one of the oldest fields and is essentially a close-knit community, many legal practitioners and legal-houses squirm at the idea of embracing digitalization for the fear of security breaches and high costs. Seriously though, legal professionals often end up losing at least a third of their prime billable hours in their non-law related endeavors. Expertise in the law is an essential characteristic of legal professionals. Their forte is not in performing administrative work. Pursuits towards embellishing their legal knowledge would be far more rewarding.
Yet, when such hours are spent on fulfilling administrative tasks, it really begs the question—what is the value of time? A survey by Thomson Reuters concluded that a major chunk of the billable hours of the lawyers in a law firm, are spent on non-lawyer work. Additionally, a smart legal tech platform can handle a major chunk of this non-legal work.
Moreover, a lot of the lawyers’ time could be freed up, and they could focus all their effort on making their hours more billable. An inability to embrace technological alternatives to rudimentary methods is clearly a handicap. A great deal of time is wasted in assimilating the data. A lot more time is wasted during the attempts at the collation of the data in the future.
Why go digital?
As professionals, lawyers charge the clients for the opinions solicited as well, and that would entail opinions solicited through emails, phone calls, text messages, and the like. As a concept though, time tracking and time management is extremely important for everyone. However, it is extremely vital for professions where billing is made on a ‘per hour’ basis. The most commonly preferred method of billing is in fact, the ‘per hour’ basis. It may be a common circumstance where a quick opinion would hardly take more than 10-15 minutes of your time, yet such a time too is totally billable. In a day with a jam-packed schedule, it is not often possible to keep a track of the exact minute spent in discharging professional duties, which is why there is, all the more a need to go digital.
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It is needless to say that automated time tracking is the next big thing. A cloud-based platform is effective time management and time tracking tool, which effectively banishes all fears and tedium associated with manual time tracking.
- The paperwork involved is substantially reduced. This, in turn, induces a lot of free open spaces in the office. There is such a space crunch in today’s world. Moreover, all of this free space can help store other important papers, documents, and books.
- It is less dreary to maintain. Rather than browsing through pages of information, it is extremely convenient to collate as well as backtrack information. All of this technology would be at the mercy of a keyboard button or a mouse click. Bills raising, (which is often done quarterly, half-yearly, or at the end of the year), would be much easier.
- With the right security measures in place, the data would be far more secure. Data stored on the cloud could be far more secure. The data would not be susceptible to damage by fire, water, (or quite simply lost at a café table or the subway).
- Engaging the time tracking and management tool as a virtual assistant could be possible. An assistant that reminds you about pending emails, or scheduled meetings and/or conferences, or send automated invoices for billing the clients.
Scaling the Time Tracking Mountain
Practicing time management would only bring about a certain amount of discipline—in both professional as well as personal life. Amidst the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life, it may seem like a tough ask to suddenly get up, pack up, and go digital! Obviously, this is not going to come to fruition overnight, but must be paced appropriately.
- At the onset, soak into the idea of time management, by taking stock of your daily routine, broadly, and bringing about a pattern in the same. Try to stick to a routine, and do not allow any diversions.
- Always remember that just as the value of money keeps changing according to time, similarly the value of your time keeps changing according to how well you are able to manage the same and make it rewarding and profitable.
- Cut out the foolscap! Minimize the employment of manual time tracking and management activities. Ease into digitalization. Use virtual time management tools to manage and track time. Invest in proper data security measure, since that will help you in the long run.
The concept of virtual time management is still fairly new, and we advise investing in a good time management tool in order to be ahead of the curve. Time management speaks of a certain amount of discipline which clients—present and future, may find extremely attractive and reassuring. You would finally not squander off your vital billable hours.
Incidentally, Legodesk is a cloud-based platform that offers a host of services focused on assisting the lives of the lawyers, such as keeping a track of cases, and important dates, uploading documents, tailor-made weekly, and daily alerts, virtual billing of clients, and the like.