You finally made it home for the weekend for a little R & R with the family. Perhaps you’ve just put in a gruelling 60 or 70-hour workweek. Exhausting, but you figure it’s worth it because of the compensation. But after a taxing week like that, can you really be expected to accurately document all of your billable hours? If you’re doing it like this, you could be costing yourself, and the firm, valuable time and money. Follow these rules to ensure you’re making the most of your time, financially:
Bill immediately as you complete your work
Do you wait a couple of days, or even until the end of the week to do your timekeeping?
Studies have shown that if you don’t get your time in by the end of the day, you could be losing 10% of billable hours;
Waiting until the end of the next day could cost you 25% of billable hours;
Failure to do it until the end of the week could mean you’re losing up to 50% of billable hours!
Will you forget about those emails you read from opposing counsel on Monday? That quick phone call with a witness or client on Tuesday? Document it as soon as you hang up the phone, or close the email.
Billing contemporaneously ensures that nothing slips through the cracks, saving you money.
It’s in the details
Filling in billable items with clear descriptions of what was done will cut down on client questions; Obviously, making things up on the timesheet because you just don’t remember is a faux pas you don’t want to make. In addition, fill in the client in advance on what they’ll be billed for, and what they can expect to see on their bill.
If the client questions anything because of failure to adhere to any of the above, the end result is MORE valuable time wasted going over it all with them.
Send your client their invoice, promptly, each month! If you wait an extra 30 days or even months later, the client will sense a lack of urgency, and likely not be so quick to settle up.
And if you’re not following Rule #1, above, you’ll need to spend valuable time, not only looking back on your own email and phone records, but also explaining it all to the client.
And a hidden trick on this front, as noted by the Canadian Bar Association: Find out what your client’s pay cycle is for their company: If you can deliver your invoice monthly before the cut-off, all the more resources will be available to meet your bill. (Likewise, for a client on salary, learning their pay period can allow you to invoice them when they’ve been freshly paid.)
Finally, for an even greater benefit: Setting up retainers with clients means you’ll never have to wait to get paid.
This improves your cash flow regularly, eliminating the need to chase down any payments, and leaving you more time to work on the (billable) things you want to work on.
Your time is valuable!
If you’ve been reading between the lines here, it’s obvious that the overriding theme is “Time is Money”. Wasted time means wasted dollars.
Another valuable way to save time in your practice is to forego the tedium of painstakingly filling out documents manually from scratch. A document automation system like Korbitec’s ACL (Automated Civil Litigation) increases efficiency and cuts down on costly errors, which of course saves time. And Time Is…. well, you know the rest.