Image source: Mateus Campos Felipe
Attorney time tracking is one of the most important administrative tasks in a law practice. With most attorneys charging an hourly rate, precise tracking of work-related activities presents a challenge since your income depends on timekeeping. The more reliable your time tracking app is, the more accurate your billing will be.
Ironically, both timekeeping and billing are administrative tasks. The time you spend on them is not case-related, making it non-billable. However, you can’t skip it because your revenue depends on it. That’s why attorneys need reliable time tracking tools that provide detailed reports on how they spend their workdays.
With Timing, our automatic time tracking tool for macOS users, you will never worry about tracking the time you spend on work-related activities. Since Timing records your time automatically, you won’t have to remember to start and stop timers yourself. You can focus and work without distraction. Timing also provides detailed reports and gives you complete control over the deep-level data, which is impossible to gather with manual time tracking.
Using Timing reports saves time and increases accuracy when billing your clients, ensuring that no time is accidentally left unbilled. It helps you gain clients’ trust and improve your reputation. You can download our app and start your 30-day free trial to see how Timing works.
In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of time tracking software for lawyers. We’ll outline the must-have features and how they help with the daily timekeeping challenges. Finally, we’ll list the five best lawyer time tracking tools and discuss each tool’s pros and cons.
Before we get to the top five, let’s start with attorneys’ common timekeeping challenges.
Law firm time tracking: The key challenges in a legal practice
The main challenge with timekeeping is that it’s time-consuming, distracting, easy to forget, and hard to do retrospectively. Attorneys often prefer to focus on their casework and leave time tracking for later.
However, memory is not a reliable source when you have to recall what you were doing for each client throughout the day. The more you delay timekeeping, the harder it becomes, and the more inaccuracies appear in your reports. These inaccuracies result in underbilling and lost revenue.
Here are the biggest challenges that attorneys face:
- Distractions that affect productivity
- Time-consuming administrative tasks
- Manual time tracking and outdated work methods
- Lack of timekeeping tools for fieldwork
- Underbilling and lost revenue
- Potential privacy issues when using time tracking tools
Let’s discuss how these challenges affect the lawyer’s workday.
Distractions and decreased productivity
Let’s say you are researching a new client’s case when your phone rings. It’s another client who needs advice and will pay for it. However, you must interrupt your current task to answer this call. Now try to estimate how many interruptions like this you have on any given day.
Some time tracking apps, such as Timing, ask users to report their time right after the call ends to ensure that time spent on the call gets compensated appropriately.
An unexpected call is just one example of a distraction that’s hard to avoid. Such distractions disturb your rhythm no matter how well you organize your day. They are common when you work on several cases and often switch between tasks. Juggling multiple projects is among the top contributors to low productivity.
Distractions are a significant problem because they fragment your time on any task. Fragmentation makes recollection very difficult, and the more you delay time tracking, the harder it gets. That’s why automated time tracking helps you improve productivity.
Administrative tasks and time-consuming activities
Legal practice requires a lot of administrative work that falls under the non-billable category. It includes billing and record-keeping, among other routine tasks. While these tasks are essential to the business, they aren’t case-related. For accurate client billing, lawyers need to separate work on legal cases from other tasks and use proper time tracking tools to do so.
Law firms hire assistants to handle administrative work, allowing attorneys to focus on legal cases. If you are a solo practitioner, you need to find a way to allocate non-billable hours to all those additional tasks.
An automatic time tracking app would be a good solution since you can record the smallest tasks you spend your time on. You can then allocate, reduce, automate, or delegate them to free up your time for other activities.
Manual time tracking and outdated work methods
We mentioned above the importance of immediate time tracking. Memorizing everything you do minute by minute is impossible. If you use manual time tracking, you need to remember to start, pause or stop timers when working on each task, interrupting your work process throughout the day.
It’s annoying and distracting and makes it hard to concentrate on a case because your attention is constantly split between work and time tracking. Also, outdated work methods such as timekeeping in spreadsheets will take more time since you have to manually add time entries and task descriptions.
Automatic time tracking tools help you solve this challenge since they record your time without the need to start and stop timers manually. That way, you can focus on your work-related activities, knowing you will have an accurate overview of how you spend your workdays.
Lack of tools for tracking time while on the go
Attorneys do a lot of work offline. Meetings and court hearings are the most prominent examples that come to mind. Legal professionals need tools that track billable hours online and offline.
A good legal time tracking software should be able to provide you with both options, including time tracking on multiple devices such as your smartphone.
Inaccurate client billing and invoicing
Sometimes lawyers and clients have different perspectives on time spent working on a case. If you leave out critical information in your reports, clients may refuse to pay for your work, or you may be charged with malpractice.
Using an automatic time tracking tool that records your time down to the second can eliminate subjectivity in these situations. It provides transparency and peace of mind for you and your clients, improving your overall reputation.
Also, automatic time tracking tools help you reduce omitting billable hours from the record and invoice your clients accurately, ensuring your business stays efficient and profitable.
Keeping information confidential
We already mentioned automated time tracking as the right way to go. However, modern digital tools collect and store data, which raises the question of privacy and data security in timekeeping apps.
As an attorney, your reputation depends on maintaining confidentiality. The lawyer must put reasonable effort into preventing unwanted disclosure of client information. It includes a careful choice of digital tools that guarantee your and your client’s privacy.
Choosing a timekeeping app is not an exception, and it’s up to you to pick a solution that doesn’t jeopardize the confidentiality of the information you use in your everyday work.
How does lawyer time tracking software solve these issues?
Timekeeping software is one of the essential tools in modern legal practice. Its main advantage is that it takes a considerable burden off the attorney’s shoulders. Here is how automatic time tracking tools help you improve your time management and run projects cost-effectively.
Track your time more efficiently
Automatic timekeeping software for lawyers significantly reduces the effort required for precise time tracking. It provides a higher accuracy because it records your activity in real-time. Timekeeping software automatically tracks how much time you spent on each app, document, website, video, or phone call while working.
Also, it eliminates the need for manual time entries or starting, pausing, and stopping the timers manually to track time spent on projects and tasks.
Measure the time spent on work-related tasks
Automatic time tracking software will differentiate your activities and help you keep a detailed log. It enables you to assess your work time with greater precision because it provides a detailed overview of the tasks related to your job and those that distract you. Also, it improves the time tracking ratio between case-related and administrative tasks by providing you with a detailed overview of all your projects and tasks.
Automate routine tasks and time tracking
Reducing human effort and error while increasing speed is the primary benefit of automatic time tracking solutions. They allow effortless task creation, data recording, and fast reporting, helping you focus on what matters the most – helping your clients.
Track time wherever you are
A good time tracking solution will record the time you spend working on your desktop device. As for mobile devices, tracking time on the go can be a challenge since some mobile platforms such as iOS don’t allow automatic tracking. Still, the best time tracking tools, such as Timing with its web app, will let you start and stop timers manually when outside the office.
Increase the accuracy of your invoices
You can use time tracking tools to download detailed reports you can attach to your invoices. The best tools will also support integration with legal practice management software you already use. After you review your time entries, you should be able to import tracked hours as billable items.
What to look for in a law firm time tracking software?
Here are the six key features to look for when choosing time tracking software:
- Ease of use
- Automatic time tracking
- Detailed reports
- Available integrations
- Team capabilities
- Privacy features
Let’s look at each aspect and explain why it is important.
Automatic time tracking
Automation is the most significant advantage of time tracking software. You don’t have to remember to start, pause or stop timers, which reduces the error rate to a minimum. Nothing gets omitted, and you can rely on great accuracy.
Timekeeping software records your activities across multiple devices. You can easily spot distractions and time eaters and take steps to remove them from your daily routine.
Modern time tracking software automatically tracks the hours spent on a project, which helps calculate billable hours. Make sure your tool provides detailed reports and control over the level of detail in the timesheets you send to your clients.
Integration with standard utility tools is essential for tracking time. For example, when you sync your Google Calendar with your timekeeping software, you’ll be able to record your appointments, track audio or video calls, and add time entries. It automates your workflow and saves you time.
A good time tracking app will keep your records private. You’ll own the data and decide who to share it with and what portion you want to disclose. Ideally, your time tracking app will store data locally so no one else can access it.
Ease of use
We already mentioned automation as a critical feature, and we want to add a user-friendly interface as another necessity. Sooner or later, you would have to go through your reports, make entry corrections, or export them. These tasks should be straightforward and contribute further to efficient timekeeping.
Attorney time tracking: 5 best tools to use in 2022
Now that you know what to look for in a legal firm timekeeping software, let’s discuss the top five apps we have chosen for this list.
Timing is an automatic attorney time capture tool for macOS. It automatically tracks the app, window title, document path, or browser URL you are currently working with. Timing also allows you to manually start and stop timers via a web app while on the go.
You can store data locally on your Mac or sync data across your Mac devices. Timing is entirely GDPR compliant since your data is encrypted and well-protected.
Timing provides detailed reports you can export in various file formats to create timesheets for your services or import tracked hours as billable items in the GrandTotal invoicing app for Mac. With Zapier, you can connect Timing with tools you use for your work-related activities.
Timing offers three subscription plans – Professional, Expert, and Connect. The Professional plan costs $8 per month, the Expert costs $10 per month, and the Connect plan costs $14 per month when billed annually. Also, you can test Timing with a 30-day free trial.
Image source: LawSites.
Chrometa is an automatic time tracker for Mac, PC, and Android. It records time in the background while you work on your documents and emails, removing the need for manual timekeeping. The app uses phone numbers, email addresses, and keywords to recognize which project to allocate entries to. All you need to do is review your timesheet at the end of the day.
Chrometa can integrate with various other apps, like case management platforms, legal billing software, project management platforms, and document management apps. You can also use custom API connections to sync with other tools. You can generate reports and export data in several formats, including XLS and CSV.
Chrometa pricing starts at $19 per user/month with the Standard plan. Plus and Premium subscriptions are also available at $29 and $49 per user/month. All subscriptions include a 30-day free trial.
Image source: G2.
HiveDesk is a task management and time tracking solution with native client apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. With HiveDesk, you can record time spent on desk work and fieldwork. The app generates timesheets automatically from the time logged for each task.
Since HiveDesk is centered around projects and tasks, you need to create them manually and start and stop timers for each task to record your time on it. You can clock in fieldwork by starting a task manually on the native mobile apps.
HiveDesk offers five subscription plans based on the number of users. Pricing starts at $20 per month for five users with annual billing. You can test HiveDesk with a 14-day free trial.
Image source: G2.
It is a web-based platform focusing on task management, time tracking, and billing. You can track your time by manually starting or stopping a timer in your current task. With todo.vu, you can manage your tasks and time entries in one place which reduces timekeeping errors and speeds up timesheet generation.
You can use todo.vu for invoicing or export and attach your reports to invoices from other billing software. You can export your timesheet data to XLSX or in CSV format. You can also link other apps via Zapier.
todo.vu comes with a free plan. There’s also a paid subscription for $9 per user/month that’s suitable for teams.
Image source: G2.
Apploye is a timekeeping app for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. It offers a task-based time tracker. All you need to do is start your time and focus on your work. You can also log manual time entries. Apploye detects idle time and flags it for easier exclusion from your reports and invoices. You can also manually exclude specific tasks or projects from your billable hours.
The app has an in-built invoicing feature that uses your hourly rate and time log to generate invoices. Keep in mind that Apploye doesn’t link with third-party billing software. Also, data exports are in the pipeline, so they are currently unavailable.
Apploye is affordable, with single-digit rates for all four pricing plans. The solo subscription costs only $2 per user/month with yearly billing. Annual rates for all pricing plans are 50% lower than monthly rates. Also, the app offers a 10-day free trial.
Now that we described our top picks and their time tracking features, let’s see why Timing is on top of the chart.
Timing: The lawyer’s secret time tracking weapon
It’s essential to stay focused with so many distractions and different case files to tackle. Timing helps you take control and get more done in less time. Continue reading to learn how.
Keep track of time without any effort
Timing automatically tracks time spent on apps and docs you use while working, so you don’t have to start and stop timers yourself since Timing does all the work for you. Still, if you need to, you can add manual time entries or use the web app to start and stop timers on your mobile iOS or Android device. Both options provide you with complete control over how you track your time.
Stop missing time spent on meetings
With Timing, you can track time spent on offline or online meetings. You can quickly start and stop the timer via the web app on your phone or sync Google Calendar to log your appointments and track them on your timeline. You can also record time after each video or audio call to account for billable hours.
Simplify your billing process
You can integrate Timing with Zapier or another billing system via the web API. Also, you can export your data in XLS or CSV and import it to an invoicing app that supports these formats. The latter option adds a few clicks to your workflow but comes in handy when you already have a billing software solution you don’t want to change.
Don’t worry about privacy
We already explained previously how Timing stores data locally and in the cloud. It’s important to mention that Timing servers are hosted in data centers in Germany, which has the most robust data protection laws globally. To feel more secure, you can also sign a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) that governs how we take care of your data.
Track your time to the second
Timing gives you actionable insights into how you spend your time. Depending on what you need, you can customize the reports to include more or less detail. You can get daily, weekly, or yearly summaries depending on your preference. Timing has your back, whether you want to track time down to the seconds or just need a general overview.
Increase your productivity
Timing records everything you do on your Mac. You can assign productivity scores to your tasks, specify what activities harm your productivity, and track progress to monitor how it improves over time.
Keep in mind the conclusions and steps for productivity improvements are yours to make. Timing will provide you with actionable insights and show you potential areas for improvement by keeping an accurate time record. You can analyze data, draw conclusions and make informed decisions to optimize your workflow and increase productivity.
Lawyer time tracking: The key takeaway
Accurate and detailed timekeeping is essential in modern-day legal practice. Issues like underbilling and low productivity are avoidable with the help of reliable timekeeping software for lawyers. Automated time tracking apps reduce the effort and time spent on administrative tasks and help you focus on your cases.
There are many time tracking tools, but our research puts Timing on top of the chart. Timing combines automation with various integrations to simplify your timekeeping and billing workflow meaning no time is accidentally left unbilled. With Timing, you get detailed reports to attach to your invoices without compromising your or the client’s privacy.
If you are a Mac user, download Timing and let it track your time so you can focus on doing your best work instead.