When it comes to time entry in the legal industry, there are several misconceptions. Perhaps these misconceptions exist because people are afraid of change. Change is really hard, after all. Misconceptions can serve as a defense mechanism against the pain brought on by change. In the famous words of President John F. Kennedy, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
When it comes to timekeeping, mobile time entry is the future. However, despite the notable benefits of embracing contemporaneous time entry, many firms resist. This resistance relies on - you guessed it - many commonly-held misconceptions about time entry and compliance at law firms.
The purpose of this blog post is to facilitate an open discussion about time entry and compliance as they relate to mobility. The following misconceptions are a representation of statements we hear from law firms every day.
#1: Attorneys are not tech-savvy.
Really, how do you mean? Because 91% of attorneys own smart phones and 48% use tablets. These mobile devices are used to interact on social media, check email, access files and surf the web. That sounds “tech savvy” to me. We believe attorneys are not averse to technology unless it leads to a misuse of their time and it doesn't work the way that they work.
#2: Attorneys will refuse to enter time contemporaneously.
Consider the alternative. Do you know any attorneys that enjoy pouring over their emails, call logs and calendar to forensically assemble how their time was (most-likely) spent over the course of the time period? This is a tedious task and can take several hours to complete, hours that could be better spent on another task. When it comes to encouraging attorneys to embrace mobile time entry, it’s all about communicating the value and allowing them to get started slowly. For the attorney, there is value not only in the time that they will save, but also in the increase of billing accuracy. It has been our experience that attorneys are quick to embrace new technology that serves them well. The problem with adoption happens when the wrong solution is implemented or there is inadequate support available.
#3: Compliance is the responsibility of the finance department.
Well, that’s certainly one way to look at it. However, this mindset is missing a key competitive advantage that is likely to drive the future of legal.Traditionally, attorneys are not involved in understanding why their time cards should comply with client billing guidelines, and as such, the process is left up to legal assistants and/or the accounting department to clean up time cards entered by the attorneys so that they comply with said guidelines.This is an enormous effort with an extensive amount of time invested by the staff. Ultimately, the person best suited to accurately complete a time entry is the attorney working on the case. Real-time compliance is actually giving the power back to the attorneys, the parties that know best in terms of how the billing should be completed. This, in turn, lessens disputes in the billing process, resulting in faster payment and happier clients - a considerable win for attorneys.
#4: Legal Assistants know best.
Yes, of course they do, but this is a cop out. In order to maximize productivity, increase accuracy and maintain morale at the firm, the person completing the task should enter their time as the task is complete. When this occurs, legal assistants are empowered to add maximum value to the firm. At the end of the day, it should be the attorney's responsibility to enter his/her time contemporaneously.
#5: We always did it this way, why change it now?
This mentality is very dangerous in today’s competitive market. The legal industry, as we know it, is in the midst of a great transformation. Those firms that swiftly make changes in the interest of accuracy will win the competitive advantage.
The primary reason that we are so motivated to write this post is that the above perceptions about time entry and compliance are limiting to law firms. They squelch potential and hold firms back from maximizing their revenue and success.
What do you think? Share your experience with these misconceptions in the comments section below.