You’re a good attorney, and you care about the people you represent. Normal for you means coming in early and staying late. Spending extra time researching so you don’t miss the one thing that could make the difference for your client. Developing relationships so it’s easier to make favorable deals.
Despite all this, your office is failing. You’re not making any money. How is this possible? Because the one thing that you’re not so good at is actually keeping track of your time so you can bill for it.
When you’re in the middle of a case, this always seems like the least of your worries. It’s all about doing what you can to help your client out. But if you’re constantly leaking income, your business won’t be able to survive for long, and that means you can’t help anybody.
How can you get organized and ensure you’re actually charging for all of the work you do?
Put everything in one place. If your billing system is a bit haphazard, you can’t help but lose track once in a while. To avoid this, you want to use a centralized billing system like Clio where it’s possible to access all of your clients in the same place and even organize by specific meetings, events, and projects. For example, you might bill your client for an hour-long meeting, a court session that took three hours, and five hours of research.
Track your time on the go. As a lawyer, one of the hardest things about tracking your time is that so much of what you do is on the go. You’re meeting someone for lunch. You’re doing prep work offsite. You’re negotiating a deal at a rival firm’s office.
Smartphones have made it easier to take a quick note of your time and expenses, but you still have to enter them into your billing system later – unless you have a program like Clio that allows you to enter time and expenses directly into the main billing system right from your phone. Not only is doing this more efficient, it prevents you from forgetting to enter your time later and missing out on the income.
Set up standard bills. If you use a program like Clio, you can create and save standard bills to make your job easier. What does that mean? Let’s say you know that most client meetings are an hour. Instead of typing up a new invoice or entry for every single one, you can save the initial one you create and reuse it again and again.
Quickly generate invoices for new clients. It takes time to set a new client up in your billing system, but what if you’re in a rush or doing a one-time job for someone that came up at the last second? With Clio, this isn’t an issue. If a client doesn’t already exist in your billing database, there’s no need to take the time to add in all of their information. Simply use the Quick Bill feature and you can easily add a new Contact, create a new Matter, add in your time, and even send the bill – all while on the go.
However you go about trying to track your billable hours, it has to start with you. That means having the will and the discipline to make it part of your regular routine. Apps such as Clio can’t do it for you, but they can make the process go a lot smoother and cut down on the time you have to spend ensuring you get paid.