Time is a precious resource for both lawyers and law firms. It sometimes seems scarce in a law firm environment, however we all have the same amount of time in our days, weeks and years.
If you feel like you’re always running out of time, here are three golden time rules of time management to help you claw back more hours into your working week.
Rule 1: Treat time as a resource
Fresh out of law school, you would have quickly learned that time is the fundamental currency of exchange in the legal profession, and the currency unit is generally 6 minutes.
In simple terms, the value of time recorded or billed must cover the expenses of the practice and provide a satisfactory return on investment to the stakeholders.
This applies whether your firm is billing for time recorded or on a fixed fee or retainer basis. For fixed fee or retainer clients, the time spent still underlies the cost of work output and fees generated. It should still be monitored and measured to help maintain a satisfactory operating margin.
In any service profession, time is not the only resource available to a professional practice but it’s certainly the largest. Thinking of time as the largest and most important resource that the firm is running on can help you focus on ways to become more efficient and productive. With time-based recording critical to the level of profitability of the firm, it’s a resource that’s not to be squandered.
Unit of Time
“A unit of time or time unit is any particular time interval, used as a standard way of measuring or expressing duration.”
Rule 2: Treat time as an asset
Time recorded yet unbilled should still be considered an asset of the practice. It underpins the value of the business. Most financial institutions still recognise the potential earnings from unbilled time or work in progress.
Whether the firm is growing and building market share and brand or considering succession planning or sale, time recording and WIP are still the basic indicators of the value of the firm.
Regardless of the billing culture of your practice, the underlying principle of recording the firm’s time resources is fundamental to building this primary asset (and using time wisely, regardless of whether it’s billed or unbilled).
Rule 3: Make time-recording easy
Practice managers will agree that a capability of measuring resource performance is imperative. If your firm measures the performance of employed resources by activity, then time recording becomes the most definitive performance measure available to management.
However, there’s a valid argument that fee earners shouldn’t be bogged down with, and conscious of, their time input. Also, billing performance may well be the overriding indicator of performance but, is that value over or under stated when the final bill is rendered?
The obvious solution is to make time-recording intuitive and effortless for those doing the recording. Thanks to advances in technology, firms can now use software solutions that ensure time and content recording is not onerous and not an an impediment to completion.
The old way of doing things often let time slip through our fingers. Not only were manual timesheets fraught with the failure to record all activity, they were generally not sufficiently comprehensive. If your role required a lot of out of office work, matters were even worse.
The latest time-recording solutions allow time to be recorded whenever, and wherever – making the old days of remembering what was done at the end of the day or even the next morning a thing of the past.
Ultimately, technology options can ensure that your time recording is more accurate and complete – meaning it’s not falling through your fingers.
What will you do with your extra time?
In law firms, time remains the key resource traded each day. Treating time as a resource and asset, and implementing a comprehensive, thorough and effortless system of recording this fundamental resource, will help everyone in the firm find more time in the working week.
Whether it’s devoting this time to strategy, practice development, networking, mentoring or something else, you’ll also use your extra time wisely once you re-frame it as a resource and asset.
RedView takes your law firm to the next level. RedView provides innovative solutions to four key areas of law – client service, staff mobility, time capture and firm productivity. Innovation doesn’t have to be difficult. Adding RedView is simple, so you can get the most out of your existing systems. Learn more at RedView.