Lawyers' performance is measured internally largely by the number of hours billed, either by the attorney or by others working for the attorney's clients, but seldom are effective timekeeping tools provided or effectively utilized.
With the incentive to keep the clock running paired with poor timekeeping techniques, together with the conservative nature of legal practice and the separation between law firm lawyers and their clients' businesses, far too often is excessive time spent on tasks and inaccurate estimates of time spent made, often to the financial detriment of the client.
Modern project management tools facilitate effective workflow management with integrated timekeeping tools. Using timekeeping tools integrated with workflow management software substantially increases overall accuracy.
With structured task organization and integrated timekeeping tools, a law firm can gather extensive data regarding how resources are being allocated to recurring tasks or groups of tasks. The data can be used to provide insights to the client and to improve internal performance metrics for lawyers and law firm personnel.
Accurate and strategic data collection helps law firms stay adequately staffed and more effectively monitor attorney utilization to decrease turnaround time and prevent burnout.
Decreased time spent on a task is not necessarily the most desirable result. Critically, timekeeping data needs to be viewed alongside client and manager satisfaction surveys. Value is generated when tasks are completed efficiently while exceeding client expectations.
- The combination of timekeeping data with client approval feedback allows law firm management to provide better incentives that are more closely aligned with client goals and generate metrics that more accurately identify strong attorney and law firm performance.