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How Automating Timekeeping Benefits Lawyers and Law Firms

There’s an insidious problem preventing lawyers and law firms from recovering all of the revenue that they’ve rightfully earned: lawyers cannot bill for time that they cannot account for. Automated time capture increases the fidelity of legal billing, ensuring that lawyers and firms can be compensated for their work.

What Goes Wrong With Traditional Legal Billing

Lawyers tend to be both incredibly busy and remarkably productive. They juggle multiple clients and deadlines, working on a million things at once and managing to keep hundreds of plates spinning. As they sort through their inbox, responding to emails, reviewing attachments, researching legal issues, and following up with clients, lawyers switch tasks constantly, often working for only a few minutes at a time for each client and matter. 

Trying to keep track of where a particular activity should be billed—and was that 2.5 minutes drafting an email, or was it 3.5?—is frustrating and interrupts the lawyer’s productive, task-oriented workflow. Too often, lawyers end up scribbling themselves notes about what they worked on, but at the end of the day (or the week), they cannot reconstruct their activities with enough confidence to bill clients for specific tasks. 

The result is that lawyers—and their firms—miss out on billable time. In fact, in our recent survey, 18 percent of timekeepers reported spending between five and nine hours per week tracking and entering their time. That’s at least an hour every day spent trying to bill accurately. 

As the innovation director of a large law firm told us, “The main complaints I hear from lawyers are about administrative tasks that delay their ability to do their work. Email is the worst offender. Our lawyers will get 800 new emails each day, so they end up managing email in the evening, at home, when they want to be with their families. And then it’s just too much for them to take the time to track, so it’s uncredited.” 

Fortunately, there’s a better way.

How Automated Time Capture Works

Technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can now predict what song you want to hear next or what consumer goods you’re likely to buy. It’s not so surprising that AI can also glean what client or matter a lawyer is working for when drafting an email, reviewing a document, or participating in a Zoom call. 

Automated time capture does just that, predicting the client and matter based on the work being done and the lawyer’s history with the technology. With automated time capture, lawyers don’t have to interrupt their train of thought to manually enter their time. Nor do they have to spend upwards of an hour at the end of the day trying to reconstruct their billable time from cryptic sticky notes or partial time entries. 

From those predictions, automated time capture then creates a narrative in the law firm’s billing software that conforms with that client’s billing guidelines based on the historical record of timekeeping entries. The lawyer can confirm whether the system’s entries are correct, edit entries as needed, or delete any activities that should not be billed—all in just a few seconds and a few clicks.  

The Benefits of Automated Time Capture for Legal Professionals and Law Firms

The advantages of capturing time automatically are clear. 

Lawyers are spared the frustration of trying to keep track of every moment of their time—and the helpless futility of constantly failing at that Sisyphean task. Lawyers also save as much as an hour a day, giving them more time to add value for their clients or simply enjoy an evening with their families. In addition, lawyers can maintain their focus and attention while they’re working instead of being distracted by administrative concerns. 

Law firms benefit too, with reduced write-offs, increased capture of billable time, and increased revenue. If an attorney who bills at $600 per hour reviews 50 emails in a day, spending one minute on each email, that adds up to $500 per day that the firm could capture—effortlessly—with an automated time capture system. 

But that’s not all that firms stand to gain. Attorneys who spend less time stressing about timekeeping and more time doing their work tend to be happier, with higher job satisfaction. That in turn translates to lower turnover for the firm and better results for clients. 

Ready to cash in on the benefits of automated time capture? Check out our recent webinar about ZERO Apollo, which uses AI to predict the client and matter while attorneys go through their work, automatically tracking time and creating billing narratives in seconds. 

Contact us to learn more and schedule a demonstration.