Enhancing client value with automated legal timekeeping software

A coworkers sits and types on a computer, while another coworker stands and points to the data on the computer screen

Legal industry insiders understand the extreme importance of accurate time entry in the financial health of a firm. Yet lawyers often dread the process of producing complete and compliant timekeeping entries due to labor-intensive processes that take them away from client work.

Working on multiple matters across multiple clients further complicates timekeeping for lawyers. It takes significant effort to reconstruct daily activities after a long and varied workday, and many professionals delay this task to the end of the week — or worse — the end of the month, when memory often fails.

We typically see timekeeping habits fall into two broad categories: entering time contemporaneously throughout the day, or reconstructing activities as mentioned above. These reconstruction efforts rely on memory or manually reviewing emails, calendars, phone history, or documents — an extremely cumbersome and unreliable method for generating timely and accurate timecards. Those in the contemporaneous time entry group rely on their own discipline to either effectively use timers as they work or complete timecards as they complete tasks. Savvier firms have deployed comprehensive automation in the form of legal timekeeping software to help both styles of timekeeping.

Bolstering user adoption

To bolster adoption of legal timekeeping software, firms need to ensure that automation technology and processes work without disrupting the unique ways lawyers prefer to work. If lawyers don’t find the technology helpful, they simply won’t use it — instead, they’ll quickly revert to working the ways they’ve always done. It’s essential to strike a balance between providing innovative technology that promotes more efficient habits while retaining traditional, useful features.

As remote and hybrid work remains standard, it’s important to provide a companion mobile app that effectively offers the core features found on the desktop version of the firm’s timekeeping software. Legal timekeeping software and companion mobile apps should also provide an intuitive interface that allows seamless interoperability between mobile and desktop devices. Users now expect to use automated time capture, timers, time entry dictation, and even billing compliance from wherever they’re working. Lastly, an offline mode that lets users work uninterrupted then securely and accurately synchronize when back online is an often underrated but crucial function.

Starting — and staying — compliant

Ever-growing client demands for transparency and superior service have amplified the need for firms to integrate outside counsel guidelines (OCGs) into their timekeeping and billing workflows. Modern legal timekeeping software can surface OCGs directly at the point of time entry, alerting users to review and correct inconsistencies immediately, simplifying the work of both lawyers and the billing team.

When lawyers include billing compliance as an integral part of their time entry workflows, it eliminates much of the effort that the billing team might otherwise expend cleaning up noncompliant bills, thereby accelerating the proforma process. In turn, delivering timely, compliant invoices lets the firm demonstrate its attention to detail and service, further bolstering ongoing client relationships while also speeding collection times.

Deploying integrated legal timekeeping software

By choosing a modern, integrated legal operations and finance solution, firms can help lawyers work efficiently, consistently, and profitably while ensuring client success. With timekeeping supported by automation and data-derived intelligence while also aligned with client billing requirements, firms can accelerate the work-to-collect cycle, reduce revenue leakage, and understand the true value of each engagement.

To support these needs, OnePlace Operations & Finance provides these critical elements: Intapp Time automatically captures activities and provides tools to easily track work in real time to ensure users capture the true value of their efforts; Intapp Terms saves time and mitigates risk by storing, indexing, and analyzing client guidelines while assuring enforcement of your firm’s obligations; and Intapp Billstream offers a modern, cloud-based automated proforma invoice solution designed to help integrate, automate, and accelerate prebill processes.

Written by:

Miles Shupe

Practice Group Leader, Legal Operations and Finance

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