Tracking Your Time

Even in situations where you are working on alternative fee arrangements, such as contingent fee agreements, you should be tracking how much time you spend each day on a file. This serves at least two purposes:

  1. It allows you to determine how effectively you are spending your time.
  2. It provides evidence as to the fairness of your fee should your client seek to have the fee examined by the court.

In addition, properly tracking your time, rather than making an estimate down the road, can lead to higher billables as you might be inclined to underestimate the amount of time you spent on any given file.

When keeping time, make sure your records are easy to understand and that you provide a sufficiently detailed explanation of the service performed. A notation such as “2.5 hours for work performed on your file” is not sufficiently descriptive. Also get in the practice of docketing time right after completing the work and recording your dockets daily.

Time management is another area where case management technology can assist you by providing detailed breakdowns on the amount of time you are spending on files, areas of law, and information relating to billing for that time. Whether using software or paper, consider the value in including:

  • the time spent by each lawyer and staff on the file;
  • a breakdown of billable and non-billable time;
  • a sufficiently descriptive explanation of the services performed;
  • a system for producing both interim and final statements of accounts; and
  • a system for generating time management reports on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.