• Sponsor

    This blog is sponsored by Smart Time Apps. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one time management platform for attorneys, accountants and consultants. The Smart Time on-demand time capture and time entry application enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability. Our mobile apps enable you to do timekeeping anywhere, anytime.

    In this blog we will share our thoughts on timekeeping, industry best practices and how technology can help improve the process.

  • schedule a demo
  • Categories

Smart Time Apps Announces Case Study Featuring Meyers Nave

Campbell, CA – October 6, 2014 – Smart Time Apps, the provider of Smart Time, today announced the availability of its latest case study, which centers on California-based firm Meyers Nave and its experience implementing Smart Time.

Click here to download the case study.

Smart Time is an all-in-one timekeeping platform for law, accounting and professional services firms. The Smart Time timekeeping platform includes time entry, time capture and mobile modules. Any one of the modules can be installed independently or together to create a complete timekeeping platform. Smart Time enables firms to effectively collect, track and recoup billable time, thereby increasing revenue and profitability.

“Smart Time has a lot of intrinsic features I really like,” said Matt Reynolds, top technologist at Meyers Nave. “We recently completed the implementation, and we already can see a positive effect on the bottom line. Attorneys are spending less time building their time chit, and more time practicing law.”

“This is the second firm Matt has introduced to Smart Time, and we’re pleased to have another example of the ways in which Smart Time benefits firms almost immediately,” said Smart Time Apps co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Todd Gerstein. “This case study again demonstrates Smart Time’s ability to achieve greater revenue, less pain and total mobility for its users.”

About Smart Time Apps

Smart Time Apps creates software solutions that maximize profits for law, accounting and professional services firms. Our flagship product, Smart Time, is an all-in-one time management platform. Our team of experts specializes in finance, accounting, marketing, process engineering and technology. We utilize best-of-breed technologies, as well as the most advanced tools and production processes. We have built a dedicated team, who offer solutions that are unique in the industry. Smart Time Apps is privately held and is headquartered in Campbell, California. http://www.smartwebparts.com.

Block Billing by Law Firms Costs Clients Millions in Just Three Lawsuits

Grant%20Bio%20PhotoGrant D. Stiefel, Esq.
Litigation Limited
Special Guest Post

In August 2012, three different courts issued rulings which hold that vague, block billed time entries—which have long been the bread-and-butter of most law firms—just aren’t a very accurate or reliable reflection of how much time those law firms actually spend working on the clients’ behalf.  This article by Litigation Limited (http://litigationlimited.com/) summarizes these three decisions and considers their import for clients and corporate counsel who have not yet adopted outside counsel billing guidelines that prohibit block billing.

In Payan v. Nash Finch Co., Case No. 11CA0570 (Co. App. 2012), the Colorado Court of Appeals noted that “across-the-board percentage cuts are routinely employed by courts to remedy… block billing” and cited to a Ninth Circuit decision and California State Bar study which found that “block billing resulted in a 10% to 30% increase in time shown in billing statements.”

In The Walman Optical Company v. Quest Optical, Inc., No. 11-CV-0096 (D. Minn. 2012), the Court ordered attorneys’ fees as sanctions for defendant Quest’s misconduct during discovery and asked plaintiff Walman to submit a fee petition and billing statements. However, after being presented with vague, block-billed time entries, the clearly infuriated Court slashed Walman’s fee request by more than 85 percent: “Due to [counsel’s] practice of block-billing – that is, billing multiple tasks under a single time entry – it is impossible for the Court to determine how much time [the lawyers] spent on specific tasks.”

Finally, in Yelton, et. al. v. PHI, Inc., et. al., Civ. Action No. 09-3144 (E.D. La., Aug. 14, 2012). , a Louisiana federal district court rejected approximately $1.5 million (or 75 percent) of a party’s $2 million request for attorney fees and expert witness costs because the law firm’s time entries were “vague, block billed and irrelevant.”

What’s really interesting is that none of these disputes involved a contractual provision or statute that would have obviously awarded attorneys’ fees award to a prevailing party.  Instead, the courts awarded fees and costs as a sanction for the opposing party’s misconduct during litigation… which means that every lawsuit or arbitration holds the potential for a significant award of costs and attorneys’ fees.  However, because each of the clients in these cases permitted their lawyers to bill using vague, block-billed time entries, the fee awards were ultimately slashed by 57 percent, 75 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

While it’s well-known that clients who allow block billing pay a 10-30 percent premium over those clients who have outside counsel billing guidelines that prohibit the practice, these cases show that there are other reasons to prohibit block billing.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Grant D. Stiefel is the founder and president of Litigation Limited, an experienced trial lawyer, and a consulting and testifying expert on legal billing issues.  He personally managed a large litigation portfolio for the world’s fifth-largest law firm, K&L Gates, and has served as national coordinating counsel for several major corporations. He is also a trained attorney-client fee arbitrator, a certified MCLE instructor on legal billing practices and ethics, and helps clients of all sizes identify and eliminate billable hour inflation.  He can be reached at grant@litigationlimited.com or his website, www.litigationlimited.com.

Take the Time Recording Challenge

.
Tony Reiss

Founding Principal, Sherwood PSF Consulting
Special Guest Post

You can’t bill what you don’t record! Most firms recognise that the largest source of leakage of chargeable time is the time that should have been recorded but wasn’t.

Take this test to see what you would record. The answers aren’t straightforward. Discuss your answers with your colleagues. Agree on a policy. I’ve tried this test with firms and it has helped. I have some suggested answers at the end of the article.

Now, it is your turn to take the quiz.

1.  You spend an hour with a partner putting together a quote for a matter.

Do you:

(a) Each record one hour chargeable time

(b) Record no chargeable time yourself but let the partner record one hour chargeable time

(c) Neither of you record the time as chargeable

(d) None of the above

2.  The first meeting on the matter is at the client’s offices. You travel there directly from home. This takes you 30 minutes longer than your usual journey to work.

Do you:

(a) Not record anything

(b) Record the full time of your journey chargeable time

(c) Record the 30 minutes extra chargeable time

(d) None of the above

3.  You spend 10 minutes briefing a junior lawyer about some research you want her to do. She spends 3 hours doing the research and does not find an answer to the point. You do 30 minutes of research yourself and find the answer. You then spend 20 minutes with the junior lawyer talking about the answer and giving some general advice about how to research effectively.

Do you:

(a) Record 30 minutes chargeable time

(b) Record 40 minutes chargeable time

(c) Record 1 hour chargeable time

(d) None of the above

4.   At the end of the day, you tidy your office. This takes 20 minutes of which 10 minutes is spent organising and filing papers relating to the matter.

Do you:

(a) Record 10 minutes to the matter and 10 minutes as management time

(b) Record 20 minutes as management time

(c) Not record any time

(d) None of the above

5.   A week later, you meet the client for lunch. The journey to and from the restaurant takes 30 minutes. Lunch takes 60 minutes of which 20 minutes is spent talking about the matter, the remaining 40 exchanging general news about the client and the firm.

Do you:

(a) Record 90 minutes chargeable time (and make sure client pays for the meal)

(b) Record 50 minutes chargeable time and 40 minutes marketing time

(c) Record 20 minutes chargeable time

(d) None of the above

6.   You attend a client meeting, in your offices, with the matter partner and an IP lawyer. You do not participate in the meeting, which lasts for one hour.

Do you:

(a) Do not record the meeting as chargeable (but put it under another category)

(b) Record 60 minutes chargeable time

(c) Do not record the time at all

(d) None of the above

7.   At a training meeting, a colleague talks about an issue that is directly relevant to the matter on which you are working. Your colleague took two hours to research the issue. The result is that you now only have to spend 15 minutes to research the issue, rather than 2 hours 15 minutes.

Do you:

(a) Record 15 minutes chargeable time yourself and persuade your colleague to record 2 hours to the matter

(b) Record 15 minutes plus the time spent in training as chargeable time

(c) Record only 15 minutes chargeable time

(d) None of the above

8.   The junior lawyer working with you asks you how she is progressing on the matter. You spend 30 minutes with her, giving general feedback on her performance, the majority of which relates to tasks she has performed on the matter.

Do you:

(a) Record 30 minutes chargeable time to the matter

(b) Record just under 30 minutes chargeable time to the matter

(c) Record the time as management time

(d) None of the above

9.   The client calls you to provide some facts that will be included in a document you are drafting. The telephone call lasts for 2 minutes.

Do you:

(a) Not bother to record the time at all

(b) Record 2 minutes chargeable time

(c) Record the time as chargeable time and round up to the nearest time recording unit (e.g. 6 minutes)

(d) None of the above

10.   You complete the matter. You and the matter partner have a lunch meeting with the client to discuss the firm’s performance.

Do you:

(a) Record the meeting as chargeable time (and imatterly persuade the client to pay)

(b) Record the meeting as investment time (i.e. marketing)

(c) Do not record the meeting

(d) None of the above

ANSWERS: How did you get on? Some of them are quite tricky aren’t they? Here are my suggested answers:

1.    (a)
2.    (c)
3.    (c)
4.    (a)
5.    (b)
6.    (b)
7.    (c)
8.    (a)
9.    (c)
10.  (b)

Note: I’m grateful to Robert Mowbray of Taylor Mowbray LLP for designing the original version of this quiz and allowing me to use it. Please contact Robert at rmowbray@taylormowbray.com

———————————————————————————————————————

Tony Reiss has 20 years’ experience assisting partners to become more effective leaders and develop more profitable business from stronger client relationships. He is a qualified Master Coach and accredited to use the MBTI psychometric indicator.

He was a Principal Tutor on the MBA in Legal Practice at the Nottingham Law School for several years and is currently a tutor on the IE Law School Management Programme in Madrid and London.

He speaks regularly at international conferences and is author of The BD Handbook for Lawyers – Prospects to Advocates.

Tony is a Founding Principal of Sherwood PSF Consulting. He has consulted international firms across Europe, North and South America, Africa and South East Asia.  He can be contacted at tonyreiss1@gmail.com and his blog is http://tonyreiss.com

Time Capture: Timekeeping Q&A with Todd Gerstein: How Time Capture Increases Revenue

Todd Gerstein
CEO & Founder, Smart WebParts

If your firm relies on booked hours for billing, it’s virtually guaranteed that your firm is also losing revenue to “leaked time,” which is time worked but not booked.

The good news is that you can plug these leaks with a time capture system: a low-risk, low-investment and highly effective option. And, not only does time capture find these lost hours, but it also helps to improve management of the entire timekeeping process.

Q: How does leaked time happen?

A: In our experience, the biggest sources of leaked time are obvious, but without time capture, hard to fix:

  • Small units of time the timekeeper simply forgets about
  • Work that the timekeeper underreports

As we delve deeper, we see that these sources occur most often in these very common work situations:

  • Emails
  • Mobile phone calls
  • Internal phone calls from colleagues
  • Time in the office when particularly busy
  • On a smartphone, but out of the office
  • Out of the office all day
  • Work that takes place in very small increments

Q: Who leaks time?

A: You’d think that there would be “good” timekeepers and “bad” timekeepers, but it’s not quite that simple. Even the best timekeeper encounters situations that thwart timely and accurate entries.

Really, it’s more a question of timekeeping “style.” Timekeepers who keep time as they go—the “contemporaneous” approach—are less likely to leak time, but still do so despite their best efforts.

Timekeepers who enter time after work is done—the “reconstructionist” approach—leak more time, with the problem worsening the longer the delay between the entry and the time worked.

Q: What is the revenue impact of leaked time?

A: Take a look at the chart below to see the magnitude of the problem:

With a time capture system, it’s very reasonable to expect to find an additional 4 to 6 hours per timekeeper per month. So, 5 hours per month for a timekeeper with a $400/hour rate yields an additional $24,000.

For a 100-timekeeper firm, closing the leak represents $2.4 million in incremental billings. This represents about a 3% pickup in booked time over the course of a year.  (Thats a 60 hours picked up on 1800 hours.)

Revenue Up, Angst Down

Firms must actively manage their timekeeping process if they are to maximize profits. With the potential for significant revenue increases for most firms, and a simple implementation process and reasonable cost, the case for trying time capture is a compelling one.

Since the billable hour was invented, two things have existed: 1) leaked time, and 2) timekeeping headaches. Time capture helps to preserve the integrity of the billable hour, plugging leaks and making timekeeping as accurate and painless as possible.

A Timesheet Compliance Policy Discussion: Many Voices, Many Solutions

Todd Gerstein
CEO, Smart WebParts

Timesheet compliance has always been dependent on how a firm’s policy shapes and directs human behavior. With that in mind, I posed a question to an online LinkedIn Law Firm Management discussion group, curious to discover how different firms handle this perennial trouble spot.

Below you’ll see the voices of many firms—in their own words—give insight into the highly varied policies and other methods firms have used to encourage compliance – some successful, some not.

The Question

I am preparing an article on timesheet compliance policies. How often do you require your attorneys to submit timesheets? How do you manage it?  What works?  What doesn’t?

The Answers

Success
For us, there are no carrots and no sticks, but there is public accountability and real-time reporting. That is, we know at any moment who is and who isn’t playing by the rules, and we quantify that daily in dollars so that people can see how good and bad behavior impacts the company. The results? We have more than 50 people in multiple offices who get their time in daily (yes, every day) by 10:00 am. Our system(s) begin the public shaming at 10:01… What’s the result on the receivable side? Well, because we have completely accurate time records, our clients get weekly updates on what we’re doing, and over the last ten (10) years, our collection rate is over 99.75% of total receivables.

We simply made it impossible to enter time more than 3 working days after the date of the proposed entry. Anyone trying to do so has to get special permission from the managing partner, based on exceptional circumstances. An attorney or other timekeeper offering the same excuse after getting special permission one time does not get approval.

While there are many strategies that tend to work for a while, the best approach is to adopt a firm-attitude (possible pun), which celebrates 100% compliance and does not tolerate time scofflaws. Offenders must know that non-compliance will be met with disapproval from their peers; punctuated if need be by a stern “talking to” from a managing partner who is comfortable saying that continued flaunting of the policy will be a factor in year-end compensation discussions. In my prior positions, my roles included pointing out this sort of issue in compensation committee meetings and I have witnessed partners and associates dinged financially ($20k in one partner situation) for poor timekeeping deadline compliance – but those three instances were extreme cases (one per decade isn’t too bad). The point being, the firm’s culture did not make excuses for those who flaunted a good and sensible rule, and each of the three people stayed with the firm, got with the program, and probably earn more now as a result of a valuable lesson learned.

We require timesheets to be submitted no later than 48 hours after the close of the day.
Our Partners are fined $25 a day for each day they are late. It is automatically deducted from their draw. As we cannot fine our associates, late timesheet information is reviewed at bonus time.

Mixed results
Our office has a written policy to turn in timesheets and enter them on a daily basis, but there is probably one or two people who actually do that. Most folks here do them weekly, or worse, on the last day of the month!

Ideally, time is entered daily and about half of our timekeepers are compliant. Of 65 attorneys, more than 80% enter their own time. Our general rule of thumb is all time for the prior week must be entered and posted by noon on Monday. On Tuesday, reminder emails are sent to those timekeepers not in compliance with a copy to me and the attorney’s Dept. Chair. For the most part, the protocol works.

Our firm requires time be entered daily; however, the attorneys are not held accountable until the month-end closing process. Most enter time daily, a few weekly and a couple stubborn folks don’t even get it in every month, and so there is endless chasing and cajoling.

They are supposed to turn them in daily. About 75% of them do. With some of them it’s like pulling teeth to get their time from them at the end of the month, and sometimes we end up telling them to add the entries to the pre-bills because we can’t wait any longer. I wish we fined them!

We ask our timekeepers to submit their time weekly, so it can be reflected in the weekly hours reports that go to the partners. Ideally, the reports are used to evaluate who, and which department, is busy. Having said that, about 1/4 of our timekeepers wait until the last day of the month to submit. and half of those are partners.

Failure
Our timekeepers are requested to input time on a daily basis, though the only requirement is that they submit them before month-end. We have a time and billing system, together with remote access, that allows our timekeepers to keep the program open all day as they work, but there is no consistency with methodology. Some of our timekeepers dictate the time entries, some write them out and give to their assistant to enter, while others enter directly through the time and billing system as they should. I have been with this firm for 19 years and it continues to be a struggle to get partners to enter time properly. Penalties for non-compliance is not a consideration.

We require all time to be turned in by Tuesday morning for the previous week. I would prefer to see it entered daily, as I believe that the longer you wait the more you lose. As with all deadlines imposed on attorneys, some follow them and others just let them slide. We are trying to deal with the problem children now. The Managing Partner is considering a “List of Shame,” which I have tried before at another firm, unsuccessfully I might add. Part of our problem is that when we developed the current policy, there were supposed to be consequences for those who missed more than twice. The consequences were not used and thus the policy became a joke.

Conclusion

Carrots and sticks abound, all of them being used with the goal of getting very busy attorneys to prioritize their timesheets. My take-away from this is that the humans in each firm don’t differ all that much, but that the most successful firms are working within a protocol that is non-negotiable, consistent and maintains clear expectations.  Culturally, these firms have made timesheet compliance a priority. The rest are dealing with varying degrees of success and frustration, for a variety of reasons, most having to do with inconsistencies in methodology, unclear expectations and a culture that doesn’t value timesheet compliance.

Hearing these voices from the trenches is an education on timekeeping compliance policy in and of itself. While it seems there is no magic bullet, the ability to compare approaches and policies at least begins to shed some light on what can work to boost compliance.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who took the time to reply with their honest (and often detailed) assessment of their firm’s approach.

Smart Time Case Study: Howard Rice

One-on-One with Matthew Reynolds, Chief Information Officer

Matthew Reynolds, Chief Information Officer for Howard Rice in San Francisco, was one of Smart Time’s “early adopters.” Since implementation, the firm’s attorneys have been especially enjoying the one-click, single view of how they’ve spent their time. As for Matthew, he tells us he’s impressed enough that he is considering recommending Smart Time’s Enterprise solution for time entry.

Why implement a time capture solution? 

For us, it was easy, because we were able to implement it as the firm underwent a rather dramatic revision to its time entry policy, which essentially compressed the period that timekeepers had to get time recorded into our legacy time entry system.  Smart Time became a tool we could offer to help them achieve this.

Another reason was my technological interest. Essentially, Smart Time brings multiple sources of data into a single view for timekeepers, and there’s no other product on the market that does that. And not only that, but as we bring on systems that may be of interest, it gives me the ability to add to that view. Smart WebParts has done a good job of making sure their system is nimble.

One of the things I had been doing prior to implementation of Smart Time was talking to timekeepers — especially the mid-level associate  — about their struggles in time entry. I know everyone manages their time differently, and I wanted to be able to deliver all of their calendared events, emails and documents to them. The timekeepers agreed this was appealing.

Like any other law firm, we have leaked time, and our time is only as good as the attorney’s memory or chicken scratch notes or what they’ve entered into Outlook. I wanted to close that gap as much as I possibly could. Hence, we implemented Smart Time.

What are the key benefits of the system for the attorneys?

I think it’s a tickler system. Generally, once you go into Smart Time, you can see what you’ve forgotten. You might see that last week you had a teleconference call, and it was a 15-minute conversation that came in from a client, and if you didn’t make a note, that call could easily not get recorded. In those instances, Smart Time has been impressive, capturing small but incremental billing elements.

It also allows a timekeeper to build a more complete time chit, which more accurately reflects the billed time and the services provided. 

Tell us about your viral deployment.

We’ve had Smart Time for over a year—we were one of the early adopters. At the time, I was quite enthusiastic about it, and was also enthusiastic on behalf of the timekeepers, but a decision had been made not to implement Smart Time enterprise-wide for all the timekeepers as we normally would with something like Word or Outlook.

It was just a different type of implementation. I had to put on my marketing cap and go talk to timekeepers,attorneys and legal assistants. What I found is that it was a grassroots effort: if you have Attorney A talking about this wonderful mousetrap, then Attorney B and C will want to check out that mousetrap as well, and that’s essentially what’s happened with the timekeepers.

What features do the attorneys like best? 

Receiving a daily journal report and running their own time capture  queries are the big hits with our attorneys.  Sure, they can easily look in their inbox and sent items, but there’s no other interface that allows them to see in a single window, in chronological order, all the emails, the documents they’ve touched, their calendar, and they can look at all these things concurrently.  From my lens, that functionality adds value to our attorneys. In a single click you can get all the information you want, and probably even more than you want.

Yes, you can get the same information elsewhere, but you’ll have to spend several clicks and you have to enter some data. This optimizes their time far more.

Now, not everyone uses it week in and week out. If you have an attorney who is working on a single case and researching it for three weeks, they know what they’ve been doing and don’t need to check Smart Time.

Where I see the activity is when you have several matters up in the air, and you’re billing several small time chits within a week’s time, and here Smart Time is second to none. You can quickly and easily review the relevant data sources for that period of time or you can parse it. You can look at just the calendar, calls in or out, documents you’ve touched or emails you’ve sent in an uneventful manner

So the timekeepers who are using the system like this primarily rely on it not to build the time chit but to supplement the time chit they’ve just entered—just to cement the information that’s being recorded and ultimately billed.

What do you think of the new user interface?

The Silverlight interface is much improved. What we’re finding is a clean, sophisticated, good-looking interface. The timekeepers also like that it’s customizable. Silverlight has also dramatically improved Smart Time’s overall performance and speed.

Has the system increased booked hours? 

That should be easy to answer, but it’s not. It’s not as if I can put a firmwide survey out to get feedback. There are a few timekeepers who use it without fail: its part of their time construction process. Others use it a couple of times a month, depending on what they’re working on.

Timekeeping in the law firm is a big challenge. Smart Time assists in closing that gap. I don’t think it will close the gap completely, but it’s a terrific and easy-to-use tool.

What else can you say about Smart WebParts?

One thing is clear to me: the market is changing in the time entry space with fewer vendors. Smart WebParts has survived, and I do think we’re going to see some vendors percolate to the top.  Later this year the firm will be in the throes of a time and billing upgrade and a likely period when Smart Time’s internal use will not only strengthen, but expand in terms of timekeepers. 

Smart WebParts has a distinct advantage in that they write their own software from the ground-up and can take into consideration some of the strengths of the other time entry products. There’s no other product on the market that brings information from multiple repositories—from the BES, Document Management and Exchange servers—and now they’re taking it to the next step. Not only can they bring in this information that is stored in other databases, but they’re going to allow you to enter time from Smart Time in their new enterprise edition. That will be our next phase for testing and further affirm the implementation of Smart Time

Todd Gerstein (Smart WebParts founder) and all the other players are  strong contributors and visionaries when it comes to capturing and recording billable time in the legal industry. Todd has been in the industry long enough, and knows a lot about time entry and the workflow of attorneys. I believe their product adds value to all firms where recording billable time is paramount.  It’s not just about recording time, but recording time that accurately reflects the services provided. 

About Howard Rice

Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, P.C. is a San Francisco law firm with leading national and international practices, representing entities and individuals across a comprehensive range of practice areas. Our clients are among the most sophisticated consumers of legal services and include: Beverages & more!; The Charles Schwab Corporation; Citigroup Global Markets Inc.; Clear Channel Communications; The Clorox Company; Digital River, Inc.; Google, Inc.; Hewlett-Packard Company; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; The New York Times Company; The Oakland Raiders; PMI Mortgage Insurance Co.; Recology (formerly Norcal Waste Systems); Regents of the University of California; Renesas Electronics Corporation; UBS; The United States Olympic Committee; and Wells Fargo & Company. For more information, please visit www.howardrice.com.


Smart Time Case Study: Herbert Geer

One-on-One with Tom Haslam, Chief Innovation Officer

Tom Haslam, Chief Innovation Officer for Herbert Geer in Australia has been using Smart Time at his firm for just under a year. Smart WebParts recently talked to Tom, who says it has successfully met his targets for finding billable units of time, making timekeeping easier for attorneys and support staff, and for improving timesheet accuracy.

What were the business drivers for implementing a time capture solution? 

Our primary driver was to insure we rendered accurate client invoices. Smart Time facilitates the process by providing the attorney a detailed journal of their day’s activities. Besides improved transparency and accuracy, Smart Time also frees up time for the attorney to focus on our clients’ requirements rather than administrative tasks.

In addition, there was a desire to more accurately capture all of an attorneys’ time. So, the second driver was firm profitability, especially since we had a concern that people weren’t remembering all their activities and recording them.

The third driver was making it easier for people to do their job. One of a attorneys’ biggest complaints was having to complete a timesheet. Everyone approaches it differently and some do it better than others. Smart Time’s timesheet recording is easier because it reports what you’ve done and predicts what you’re going to record.

Did all attorneys benefit?

Yes. It’s not like the people who struggle with timekeeping get more benefit out of the system than the people who are really good at it. Learning the system is simple, easy to get started and the benefits are realized quickly.

For the attorney who only does timesheets once a month, they obviously get quite a significant benefit in terms of accuracy and recreating their timesheet more quickly.

Or, it might also be their secretary that gets the benefit. From what I’ve seen, it’s the high performers who have really taken to Smart Time. Also the really good secretaries will go to their partner and say, “Look, I hate having to do your timesheets at the end of the month, it’s always a mad rush.  Let’s start using Smart Time and it’ll be better.”  And then they teach the partner how to do it. 

So, far the attorneys really like the automated report function. I use it, and for me, I don’t even think about time recording during the day. The next day I run my report and fill in my timesheet in 10 minutes. It’s very accurate and I can then move on to the next thing.

 What are the key benefits of the system for the attorneys?

Number one, it makes it quicker for people who are trying to recreate their timesheet from scratch.

Two, it really helps people who are working out of the office. 

Three, it is a significant benefit for part-time people. On their day off they might take calls or review an e-mail for a special client, for instance. Previously that time might have been forgotten. Now, they get a report that includes all that time.

Four, it also helps really busy people who now don’t have to worry as much about their timesheet.

The last benefit, which is a funny one, is that the litigators have used it to prove or disprove whether they had a certain conversation on a certain day, if, for example, that’s being claimed by the opposing attorney.

Has the system increased booked hours?

This is a hard question to answer because you will never have two situations that are exactly the same. There are always differences, so it’s impossible to just change one parameter, i.e., introducing Smart Time and say, “Ah, yes it’s gone up by 3 hours.” That’s very hard to prove.

But having said that, the people who use the system tell me they think it’s increasing the number of hours they’re recording. And they are saying, “Yes, we think we are getting at least an extra couple of units a day.” To us, that sounds good. I certainly use that in my business justification for the product.

About Herbert Geer

Herbert Geer is a significant Australian law firm with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The firm with over 330 people has committed to achieving intelligent and commercial solutions for clients through the application of industry and sector knowledge, technology and their first class legal skills.

www.herbertgeer.com.au