8 Legal Billing Software Strategies to Improve Law Firm Profitability
Most law firms know they need to track time and use legal billing software, but they’re not all good at it. Here’s how to get better.
What makes a good legal practice profitable? While the answer may differ depending on your area of expertise, attorneys from all domains recognize the value of time recording.
The core problem is that it takes too much time, which could otherwise be spent practicing law, and money is left on the table.
From adding up the minutes you lose to constant interruptions to setting aside room in your schedule, the tasks of timekeeping and billing are hard jobs that detract from your power to serve clients.
Why not liberate your firm from the billing nightmare?
Here are a few strategies that show you there’s light at the end of the tunnel that’s not a train!
1. Unify Your Time-tracking System
One of the biggest challenges of effective time recording lies in sanitizing the data.
If your partners all have their own preferred schedule-keeping habits, favorite calendar apps and note-keeping customs, then it’s no wonder you’re wasting time. After all, you have to jump through extra hoops just to make the records coherent.
Using a universal tracking system can revolutionize your oversight practices. What’s more, you might be able to make the switch without pulling teeth or fighting resistive staff members. Many of the best tools integrate with existing IT products, such as email clients, billing systems and mobile devices.
2. Organize Your Work
Exhaustive categorization isn’t just for the obsessive. Classify the countless tasks you engage in on a daily basis, such as reading, filing paperwork and answering emails. This simple change makes it easier to understand where the minutes and seconds are going. It also empowers you to derive business management insights that contribute to enhanced profitability.
3. Make Life Easier for Your Team
Nobody likes extra work, and time tracking is no exception.
Don’t force your attorneys and paralegals to take additional steps along with their regular duties, such as recording time spent using unintuitive software tools. This sort of strategy invites noncompliance.
Good time monitoring routines don’t burden users with supplementary work. On top of facilitating easy data entry with accessible dashboards and sensible UI layouts, they include modern conveniences, such as:
- Voice control that makes it easier to enter information,
- Robust mobile apps that keep users abreast of their time management, and
- Cloud-based backends that let people access and modify tracking data without being tied to a desk.
These helpers also make things simpler for firm leaders who seek to draw actionable conclusions about their operating practices. Whether you’re only interested in checking in weekly or prefer to keep daily tabs on how your business runs, picking the right tools gives you a significant edge.
4. Do It as You Go
Few business strategies are more stress-inducing than waiting until the end of the month to get your recordkeeping in order. Unfortunately, the traditional method of after-the-fact time oversight makes it all but inevitable that you’ll have to play catch up.
Fine-tune your schedule tracking practices with the goal of becoming more proactive.
When keeping records, you should ideally:
- Enter events into your master system as they occur,
- Create invoices as soon as practically possible regardless whether you send them to clients right away,
- Make decisions about whether to decline or approve employee time — and expense — submissions in real-time, and
- Intake supporting documents, records and receipts immediately.
While you certainly have some leeway when it comes to exercising these rules of thumb, the underlying message is clear. No matter what aspect of your practice you’re trying to improve, timekeeping procrastination is counterproductive. So are systems that force you to accept builtin delays and inefficiencies.
5. Automate Compliance
Your clients rely on you to provide honest advisement, informed guidance and accurate invoices that satisfy the terms of their service level agreements. Regulators take a similar view of your responsibilities, and failing to live up to either party’s expectations is a surefire way to compromise your organizational success.
Invoice compliance can prove exceedingly tricky if your timekeeping practices aren’t on point. Mistakes abound in the world of manual timekeeping, and such billing errors engender distrust. If you’re working with corporate clients, then being neglectful of their custom billing and accounts payable practices can dramatically increase your risk of losing their patronage — and vital revenue streams.
Instead of sacrificing goodwill or exposing your practice to fiscal losses and complaints, use tools that make compliance easy. Your timekeeping and billing systems should facilitate simple adjustments, per-client price-setting and detailed invoicing that demonstrates your commitment to fee transparency. They should also comply with the rules of professional conduct and relevant legal standards regarding client privacy and data protection.
6. Stop Relying on Human Memory Alone
Laying the foundations of your firm’s success on fallible minds isn’t always the best idea. Busy secretaries and attorneys tend to forget things as it is. If they’re also fielding client inquiries and new case developments, the chances that they’ll overlook something important skyrocket.
Your recordkeeping shouldn’t depend on lawyers to remember that they took unexpected calls after arguing cases or attending conferences. They shouldn’t have to fudge the numbers after the fact because they can’t quite recall how they spent a random day a week or two earlier. Relieving your team members of the need to keep everything in their heads or memorize codes is a great way to tighten up your operating standards.
7. Rethink the Way You Manage and Record Time
The best law firm time tracking systems combine all of these features into a single intuitive package. Practice management is far more lucrative when you can get everything done from the same customizable dashboard. As legal billing standards continue to evolve, software that can keep up may prove invaluable to your work.
8. Master Time Recording With Bilr
Want to learn more about unifying your event tracking systems? Bilr gives you enhanced power to specify custom schedules, generate reports and quantify how your business spends its time. It also uses AI to ensure that your billing codes and invoices accurately reflect the work you do — without requiring human intervention. Lawyers are able to submit invoices on the go, saving hours of time. Invoices are also automatically optimized, ensuring average revenue increases of 6–11%.
With Bilr, practices no longer need to agonize over their timekeeping. Time recording becomes a means to increase profits rather than a dreaded end-of-month chore. The app’s voice-to-text feature eliminates the need for error-prone manual input. It validates each invoice against your clients’ SLAs before submission, and its smart built-in analysis tools enable more impactful planning based on easily generated reports and intuitive data visualizations. For more pointers informed by decades of timekeeping and billing refinement, subscribe to the Bilr newsletter.
Alternatively you can try it out yourself by visiting GetBilr.com for a free consultation and trial.