How to Maximize Billable Hours for Attorneys

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How-to-Maximize-Billable-Hours-for-AttorneysImprove Your Law Firm’s Billable Hours

The billable hour for Attorneys is like gold nuggets, even a little of it can be worth a significant amount of money. That’s why maximizing every billable hour is an important part of contributing to a law firm’s bottom-line and getting paid for all of the work you do. Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to maximize your billable hours.

Don’t Shortchange Yourself

No matter how small of a task you do for a client and no matter how little time you spend on that task, you must bill for it.   If you take a phone call that lasts 5 minutes, don’t downplay the value of those minutes.  Five minutes a day over the course of a few months can add up to hours of billable time.  Once you make that 5 minute call or complete that 6 minute task, add it to your billable hours.

Provide Clear Descriptions

When recording your billable time, don’t use vague descriptions.  Vague descriptions encourage clients to dispute your invoice. The client may see a vague description for a 10 minute task, and they may decide that you’re attempting to deceive them and get more money that you deserve. To reduce the amount of billing disputes, try to be as descriptive and specific as possible in your descriptions. For example, saying “spoke to client about the legal process for next Tuesday” is a lot more descriptive than “spoke to client on the phone.”

Automate Administrative Tasks

If you’re an attorney who spends a significant amount of time on administrative tasks such as filing or answering phone calls that you can’t bill for, you are wasting money.  Even if you can’t afford to hire administrative staff, automating some tasks will help free up the time you need to dedicate to billable tasks.  Voicemail, email, and auto-responders are some of the easiest ways to automate some administrative tasks.  Voicemail can answer noncritical calls while email and auto-responders can be setup to send messages that automatically answer FAQs without you having to answer common questions for each individual client. See how Smokeball can help with Administrative tasks.

Never Micromanage

If you decide to hire administrative staff, DO NOT micromanage their work.  Remember, paralegal and legal secretaries are professionals—they know how to do their job. If you attempt to control every aspect of how they do their job, you are spending time away from your billable tasks and possibly creating more work for employees that you’re paying for their expertise.

Stay Focused

It really does matter if you get distracted when you’re really supposed to be billing client work.  The minutes that you spend on social media or watching funny videos or looking at memes can add up to hundreds of lost hours over the course of years.  That’s money left on the table. If you want to maximize your billable hours, you must remain focused during the workday and commit to completing client tasks that will generate much needed revenue.

Maximizing your billable hours is a key ingredient to maximizing your law firm’s profits.

Looking for a better way to capture your hours? See how Smokeball’s Automatic Time Tracking feature will help you never time record again, whether flat fee, contingency or hourly.

By |June 7th, 2017|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.