“Ding!” An email has just entered your inbox as “just a friendly reminder” that time entries are once again due (or perhaps past due). Upon reading this email, you might wince, groan, huff or roll your eyes. After all, this isn’t exactly what you imagined when you attended law school, is it?
Why is time entry such a dreaded task for attorneys anyway? We all know that the billable hour is the ultimate currency for law firms. Simply put, without time entry, no one gets paid. The truth is, however, the importance of timekeeping doesn’t make it any less painful.
Why Attorneys Hate Time Entry
Let’s review the reasons why timekeeping is so painful for attorneys.
#1: Most attorneys are practicing reconstructive time entry, which is an inaccurate waste of time.
It’s no secret that attorneys are overworked. In addition to managing a demanding caseload, many of today’s attorneys are practicing reconstructive time entry, which requires hours of time reviewing call logs, emails and calendars to establish a reasonable estimate of how much time was spent. To make matters worse (pun intended), the inaccuracy inherent in reconstructive time entry compromises client trust.
#2: Traditional Timekeeping solutions are not designed with mobility in mind.
Attorneys are mobile workers. From the minute that they step away from their desks, they are mobile workers. Therefore, mobility should be a top priority for law firms looking to increase efficiency through technology.Firms should offer mobile applications for all attorney functions, designed specifically with mobility in mind (HTML5 version of an existing system does not count). This leads to our next point...
#3: The User Experience of the attorney is neglected.
So often, attorneys are given apps and other technologies that are hard to learn, let alone attempt to use. This has lead to a predominant misunderstanding in the legal industry that “attorneys are adverse to technology.” It simply isn’t true. Attorneys are adverse to complicated processes that don’t add value or solve problems. When an attorney is introduced to technology that is easy to learn and use, they fall in love with that technology, which is evident in the high levels of adoption and engagement. Many of the mobile timekeeping solutions on the market are not designed with the attorney in mind. They are designed to offer “mobily” to their customers. There is a remarkable difference, and it is felt most powerfully by the attorney.
#4: Client Guidelines are too complicated.
Confusing client billing guidelines and the lack of real time compliance makes it hard for attorneys to verify compliance while entering time.
How to Offer Mobile Timekeeping that Attorneys Love
Believe it or not, it is possible for attorneys to love using a mobile time entry solution provided by the firm. Here are the key attributes of a mobile timekeeping app that attorneys want to use:
- Easy to use: Attorneys should be able to enter their time in just a few seconds via dictation or manual entry. If the solution is too complex, attorneys will not use it.
- Anytime time entry: create a solution that allows for time entry regardless of location.
- Time entry on any device: time entry should be possible from all devices - whether it is a desktop computer, smartphone or smartwatch. It’s time to make contemporaneous time entry as convenient as possible.
- 24/7 support and reliable: Is your attorney in Paris on a Sunday when the offices are closed? If he or she needs support, they need it now. Make sure that your time entry solution offers support at all times.
- Real-time compliance: there is no point in entering time that is not compliant with billing guidelines. Be sure to choose a solution that validates time entries as they are submitted.
- Zero learning curve: Offer a solution that can be learned in less than three minutes. Today’s best technology solutions have low activation energy, meaning that minimal effort is required to get started.
You see? It is possible for attorneys to love mobile time entry...when given the right solution.
Have you implemented a mobile timekeeping solution that attorneys love? Share your insights in the comments section below.