Make you and your clients’ lives easier with legal time and billing software

September 28, 2016

Money, keyboard and hand on computer mouseThe “practice of law” encompasses a variety of often disparate activities under a singular umbrella.  But while the phrase may often bring to mind tasks such as oral and written arguments and legal research, most outside the profession likely don’t consider billing to be part of the practice.

But as legal practitioners are well aware, billing is one of the most important duties in the practice of law.  Not only because the area is heavily regulated by professional ethics rules, but also to ensure that an attorney’s “practice of law” isn’t a purely charitable one.

Thankfully, with today’s technological advances, tracking time and billing isn’t what it used to be.  Once upon a time, tracking time and creating bills was a tedious undertaking for attorneys.  Billable time and hourly rates needed to be tracked manually, expenses had to be individually sorted and collected, and all of this data needed to be separately compiled into the invoice creation process.

Not only was this process monotonous and time-consuming, but it also raised the very real risk that something would get lost or changed along the way, which may result in errors that could adversely affect the firm’s bottom line.

Today’s availability of electronic file storage certainly introduced a number of improvements to the legal time and billing process.  Instead of tracking time on a clock or physical stopwatch, we now have electronic versions built into our various devices that can more conveniently gauge how much time we spend on billable activities; rather than using paper timesheets, we can track hours and calculate fees and expenses electronically; in lieu of a physical manila file folder filled with receipts and other records of expenses, we have digital folders on our hard drives full of PDFs and JPGs.

Despite the advances offered by technology, many of the same risks can present themselves just the same as if these innovations never existed.  For example, since you can’t take your desktop computer with you when you leave the office, it’s likely that those less diligent professionals may not remember to compile any expenses and billable time accrued in the field and not recorded back in the office.

In other words, if expenses and billable time are recorded in multiple locations, it’s still very possible for something to fall through the cracks.

Once again, though, technology has a solution: mobile- and cloud-based legal time and billing software.  With cloud-based legal time and billing software, time and expenses can be tracked from any mobile electronic device and recorded in a central database – so your invoices are as accurate as possible.

But the creation of invoices brings up another important technology-based improvement: the ability to easily generate detailed and transparent invoices for your clients.

Legal services generally aren’t cheap, and clients often experience some sticker shock when receiving their first bill.  Understandably, they want to know the specific services for which they are paying – and they don’t want to hire an attorney just to be able to read their invoices.

With a technology-based billing system, it’s easier than ever to produce invoices for clients that are clear and complete.  Time and expense entries in such systems allow for extensive notes to clients, and the invoices generated by such a system are perfectly understandable to non-lawyers.  And if your clients are happy with their bills, they will be happy with you.

Today’s electronic time and billing systems continue to allow legal professionals to accommodate their client’s specific circumstances and arrangements.  For instance, many attorneys are increasingly looking to alternative fee arrangements with their clients, such as flat fee billing.

Today’s time and billing systems easily allow for such alternative arrangements, and, as noted, continue to evolve so that they can keep up with the ways that attorneys are accommodating to their clients’ billing wishes.

At the end of the day, though, while legal time and billing software can help attorneys better serve their clients, having a more comprehensive and streamlined time and billing system ultimately benefits the attorney’s bottom line.