For attorneys and paralegals these are mostly rhetorical questions. The majority of timekeepers are hemorrhaging time on a continual basis. This is particularly evident in solo, small, and midsize firms. Not that individual lawyers at large firms don’t suffer the same problem – it’s just not as endemic. Now the exciting news: I can fix the problem!
Let’s do the math:
If we assume that there are 45 work weeks after calculating time off for vacation, holidays, illness, and personal matters, that leaves a total of 225 work days remaining. Let’s assume for analysis purposes that only one 15-minute segment of billable time is lost (e.g. not recorded) per day. At a conservative rate of $150/hour, that translates to a direct loss of $37.50 per day, $187.50 per week, and a whopping $8,437.50 per year based on the 45 week assumption. Take your rate and plug it in to see what it’s really costing you for just 15 minutes lost per day: Rate x .25 x 225 days = your minimum lost revenue. Even after a reduction for write-downs, it’s still significant.
That $8,437+ is not just lost billable time; it’s lost profit. Money right out of the pocket of stakeholders. Why? Because accurately recording it does not change overhead in any meaningful way, and doesn’t require you to work any harder. With all other factors being unchanged, it’s pure profit being lost.
In fact, you know that this is a modest estimate of what you’re probably leaving on the table. Most attorneys admit that they lose far more time per day than one 15-minute increment. To test this, start noting when you arrive at your desk in the morning, and when you leave at night. Deduct time for lunch. Now add up all the billable and non-billable time you accounted for that day. What percentage of your day did you capture? If your response is that in a ten hour day you can consistently account for eight or more hours, including billable and non-billable, you’re doing a decent job. Not stellar, mind you, but decent.
The majority of attorneys who complete this exercise over the period of a few weeks realize that they can only account for 40% – 60% of their time. If you can improve that by just 5%, the simple math will illustrate what a significant difference it will make on profits, the associate bonus pool, and owner compensation.
Why is it such a problem?
I have focused my long career primarily on assisting solo to midsize law firms. And that brings me to my area of concern. A concern which has motivated me to do something about it. In today’s economic climate many solos and small firm attorneys are struggling to survive. They are working harder than ever for a decreasing return. They are the attorneys most adversely affected by inefficiencies of recording time. If it’s that critical, why are they so bad at it?
- Lack of tools. Most solos and smalls do not have time & billing software to help them efficiently capture their time. Or if they have it, the software is so old there are no mobile tools for time capture, and the desktop time entry process is clunky and non-intuitive for the attorney to use.
- Fear. Fear of losing even more time. Fear of being unable to learn the software. It takes trust in the software to allow it to capture and save one’s precious increments of time. People unaccustomed to using software tools don’t trust that what goes in will come out. By the same token, most attorneys have come to expect that software will be confusing, and they will not be able to effectively use it.
- Cost & complexity. In the past software was pricey. There was a hefty upfront expense. That has changed. Today’s offerings are much more affordable, and often offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning no capital investment is required.
But the truth is that for solos and smalls especially, they don’t want to pay for software they won’t use. All most of these attorneys want and need is an ability to effectively capture time. They don’t need or want time & billing or case management (law practice management) software. They want bare minimum.
What I did about it!
When I was approached by a software company with a strong track record of recording time in the medical industry, I knew I could create a solution to this issue by joining forces. Together we could create a simple and inexpensive time keeping tool. The goal was
- Make it idiot-proof to use
- Make it bullet-proof so time cannot be lost
- Make it mobile
- Enable it to produce a simple timesheet or invoice at the press of a button
- Offer it at a price so low it’s a no-brainer for any attorney to pay for it
After extensive beta testing with a number of PA law firms of various size and practice areas, the product, Gait Keeper Law®, was rolled out at ABA Techshow 2018. The product was reviewed with enthusiasm from practice managers of other state bars and Canadian provinces, as well as attorneys who stopped by the booth in the exhibit hall.
If you weren’t at Techshow, you missed the special opportunity for a free trial. We want to fix that. Here’s a special offer for those who decide to order from the link in my blog post:
Promo Code: Ellen18 – Free 60 Day Trial
Keep in mind that this product is not designed to compete with any time & billing or practice management software packages. It is neither. It is simply a mobile and desktop timekeeping tool, with the capability of producing a timesheet or invoice. Nothing more.
Now I need to ask for help from those of you who know me, or who work in the industry and recognize that this is a product which is sorely needed. Pass the word. Like the post. Share it on social media. Comment about it on social media. Send the link to your attorney clients. Help me get the word out to the largest demographic of attorneys in the USA. Help is here. Mission accomplished!
Freedman Consulting Inc.