Why time-tracking technology is essential for winning business today
It’s no secret that clients want law firms to use technology to improve service delivery and streamline processes. What’s less well-known is that law departments now probe firms’ timekeeping technology and processes when evaluating outside counsel for new or additional business.
Time velocity and accuracy
When vetting law firms today, clients increasingly evaluate their effectiveness in managing time velocity (the period of time between when lawyer work is done and entered into a time system) and time accuracy. An Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) guide recommends that law departments drill into firms’ time-velocity data and inquire about the use of time-capture technology as a means for improving velocity and accuracy. The guide suggests RFPs ask about:
- Length of time lawyers wait to enter their time
- Technology used to generate time records for clients, including time capture, time recording, and invoice review, “with a particular emphasis on mobility, passive time capture, text expansion, and algorithmic review of entries”
- Firms’ current and completed projects to improve the velocity, accuracy, and informational value of time entries
This level of detail and specificity shows just how serious value-seeking clients are about hiring firms who have invested in timekeeping software. To effectively compete, firms should consider investing in passive time-capture technology that automatically records lawyers’ work as it is performed. This technology increases both velocity and accuracy to satisfy emerging client requirements.
A vast majority (88%) of law departments utilize e-billing systems to scrutinize legal bills for accuracy and compliance with billing terms often contained in engagement letters or outside counsel guidelines (OCGs). Of course, clients would prefer to get clean bills in the first place. Instead, with firms struggling to systematically implement billing requirements, clients waste time finding and resolving billing errors. Law departments have also started to include law firm bill-rejection trends as part of their criteria in hiring decisions. This is why “compliant time” technology — which enforces compliance with OCGs — is essential for law firm looking to increase their competitiveness.
Time entry client informational value
Accurate time and billing data has great informational value for law departments bent on containing costs. Clients use aggregated law-firm data to build matter resource and pricing models. The models become the departments’ basis for future matter staffing, pricing, and performance metrics.
This is why clients want firms to use time-capture technology — it provides accurate data for models that help departments contain legal costs. Firms that want to win business and enjoy long-term relationships will give clients clean, accurate time-entry data with the informational value they want. To do this, law firms need time-capture technology.
Carolyn Casey, JD, is a lawyer and author who writes on trends in legal technology and operations, information governance, global regulations, data protection, and artificial intelligence.