With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, how do we love automated time tracking? Let us count the ways.

Forgive us if we seem to wax poetic at times about the benefits of automated, cloud-based time tracking, but we really think we’re onto something that can benefit every single lawyer and law firm in North America. Here are some thoughts and helpful links about our favorite subject, including, perhaps, a few you have not considered.

Remove the stigma of hourly time keeping

The hourly fee became a popular method for billing legal services 60 years ago, but the billable hour was “invented” over a century ago. Tracking the “hours” began as an efficiency and inventory control and, over time, became the product itself. Generations of young lawyers, full of zeal and ideals coming out of law school, ran head on into this commoditization of their professional efforts. Attorneys were required to bill as if they were tradesmen working by the hour, with the ubiquitous paper timesheet a constant reminder, demanding attention every six minutes of every hour of every day.

Upgrading to a cloud-based law firm software management system can change the way attorneys, new and experienced, view their profession and work. Imagine never having to handle a paper timesheet again! Baby boomer and Gen X attorneys are well-aware of talented classmates and colleagues who went into corporate or government careers specifically to avoid the hassle of timekeeping in private practice.

This impulse remains true today. Millennials and the Gen Z generation are a force in the workplace and soon will dominate the demographics. They expect that their employers, colleagues, and partners will have cutting edge, or at least up-to-date, technology. They also know what tools are available to today’s law firms, so one would not expect the best and the brightest to be attracted to, or stay for long at, a firm requiring them to use antiquated and burdensome processes.

Enhanced pro bono profile

Attorneys are encouraged to engage in pro bono work, and the profession has a well-earned reputation for assisting those in need of counsel. Attorneys in 21 states are required or encouraged to report on their pro bono activity. After upgrading to Smokeball, many attorneys and firms experience an immediate increase in their reported pro bono work because they are simply capturing all the hours actually being spent. In addition to assuring that ethical obligations are being met, capturing and effectively publicizing the time spent on pro bono activities will improve your firm’s search engine results and increase client trust and loyalty.

Immediate financial improvement

The chronic, daily loss of inventory that is well-documented in the legal profession would not be, could not be, tolerated by a well-organized business. As with pro bono work, firms that implement Smokeball see an immediate increase in billable time, thanks simply to the automatic contemporaneous recording of activity throughout the day. Coupled with the time-saving features built in throughout the system, such as email management, document automation, calendar and workflow tools, and the investment in the upgraded technology is making sense for more and more law firms.

To conclude in the poetic vein, we think Robert Frost would have appreciated a cloud-based law firm management software as he reflected on the burden of the precision required by business:

Never ask of money spent

Where the spender thinks it went.

Nobody was ever meant

To remember or invent

What he did with every cent.

— “The Hardship of Accounting“ 1936


At Smokeball we can help you remember, and never, ever, invent, where every minute went. Contact us today for a customized demonstration.