How time tracking technology can mitigate unearned legal fee collection
October 09, 2012
You would think that in this day and age, members of the legal profession are equipped with all the tools they need to accurately record billable time. However, as Adam Smith of McEwen & Stanton recently noted, studies have shown that more than two-thirds of lawyers have errors in their daily time entries and regularly overestimate how much time they spend handling client tasks. Firms that habitually engage in unearned fee collection run the risk of establishing a bad reputation among their existing clientele and prospective client bases, which may end up being detrimental to their bottom lines.
Additionally, more than half of lawyers who took part in an attorney billing ethics survey conducted by Professor William G. Ross of Birmingham, Alabama-based Samford University's Cumberland School of Law admitted to doing unnecessary billable work. Survey respondents acknowledged that this work served no real purpose other than to help them meet their billable hour quotas, and did not benefit clients. A number of lawyers who participated in the study even said they had specific knowledge of deliberate billing fraud at their firms.
These questionable accounting and timekeeping practices are facilitated by the fact that the way in which lawyers record and account for their billable time remains largely unregulated, placing the onus on clients to enforce their own billing rules. When clients don't do this, "law firms simply bill how they please," writes Litigation Limited's Grant Stiefel. "That's why nine out of 10 corporate clients end up being block-billed, which means that the lawyer only records the total daily time spent working on a case, rather than itemizing the actual time expended on each specific task."Use time tracking technology to ensure accuracy
By implementing time tracking software
such as Sage Timeslips, members of the legal profession can uphold their ethical responsibilities to track and bill for their time in a fair and accurate manner while simultaneously offering an increased degree of transparency to clients. Sage Timeslips facilitates the creation of separate slips to make it abundantly clear how long specific tasks took, and also offers the convenience of showing time in a decimal format as well as the usual minute increments.
Read the full Litigation Limited article here