Proper time management is a challenge that law firms face. It is a crucial determinant of how lawyers and legal professionals perform in a business environment characterized by high volatility, ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity. With clients’ needs and requirements changing by the day, law firms must modify how they relate to their clients in their bid to satisfy their (customers’) needs. At the core of all that is one critical resource: time. Efficiency in time management is a skill that every law expert must master. Through proper time management, law firms can meet their productivity level and optimize their billing processes to achieve profitability.
As a lawyer, it is critical to understand that time is not an unlimited resource. Granted, it’s essential to maximize its use to leverage its benefits efficiently. Remember, the fees attorneys charge for rendering their professional services are directly linked to the amount of time invested in a specific legal process.
This article will discuss some of the top challenges law firms face regarding time management and the possible solutions.
Lawyer Time-Management Issues
Attorneys typically have a fiduciary duty to their clients. That is proven by the fact that they get stressed because they feel tacitly mandated to help their clients. As reported in Bloomberg Law, 6% of lawyers experience low job satisfaction, primarily due to burnouts and overworking. Most of these cases can be tied down to time management problems. They include the following:
The desire to help compels many lawyers to take up new clients, and that’s when time management troubles begin. It is easy to say you can put in extra hours to your already busy schedule, but remember, you are not a machine. Your physical and mental strength won’t be able to keep up. The value and returns for the extra hours you put in diminishes, and that hurts the level of service quality you offer your clients. Turning down a request from a law-firm partner doesn’t mean you won’t do it; it simply shows you cannot manage to handle another 6-week legal process, for instance, when you already have two or three more cases to deal with.
According to the Washington Post, work interruptions can cost you six (6) hours of your day. A considerable volume of these interruptions come from Time Bandits – individuals who frequent your desk asking: Can I have a minute of your time? These requests pop up as often as 11 times an hour, and they not only “eat up” your time but also reduce your concentration and productivity levels. The internet also makes one their own Time Bandit. Frequently checking and responding to emails, checking phone messages, and social media are some internet-based distractions lawyers face.
Estimating and Capturing Time Inaccurately
If you find yourself working into the after-hours to meet a deadline on a project or consistently write off hours in your invoices, the chances are that you estimated and captured the time inaccurately. It is critical to be realistic despite your enthusiasm to offer the best value and impress your fellow attorneys.
Presenting a project later than required because you underestimated the time or guessed wrong is a bad work ethic. Lawyers charge their clients based on the time and work they put into a project. Writing off time can cost you significantly in the long term. Consider this: If you charge $200 an hour, and you decide to write off an hour every week, you’ll end up losing about $10,600 annually. On the contrary, capturing that hour each week means you pocket the same amount every year.
How to Overcome Lawyer Time-Management Challenges
The initial step towards proper time management is to analyze the use of time. The dynamics of legal processes hinder many lawyers from evaluating how projects are completed in a law firm. Understanding these processes enables them to adapt to various tasks and use time more efficiently. Here are some parameters that indicate proper time management, or on the contrary, time wastage.
- Increasing longer working days
- Lack of work organization and prioritization to meet multiple issues of a firm
- There are no deadlines for job completions
- Long-lasting and low productive meetings
- Collaborative decision-making resulting in a lot of wasted time to reach a consensus
Lawyers often have piles and stacks of papers to complete. Learning and implementing the tips below can lead to a more streamlined workflow, limited time wasted, higher productivity, and job satisfaction.
Most cases of burnouts and work overloads stem from a law firm’s failure to schedule tasks. Without scheduling, there’ll be complete chaos with no way to track task completions.
Proper scheduling enables lawyers to prioritize projects, set appointments with clients, and meet deadlines. Being an attorney can be challenging at times. Practicing some organization skills allows you to plan and make things less stressful. For instance, creating a To-Do List can help you write down all the tasks that need your attention without leaving out any job. You may have an extended list, but you don’t have to complete them at a go. Prioritizing them ensures you complete them in time and delivered them to the specific receiving office.
Create Time Locks
The essence of creating time locks is to cut off time bandits that distract you from completing a task at hand. A time lock is a specific period dedicated to carrying out tasks without any interruptions whatsoever. If disruptions come from your colleagues, discuss the issue with them and come to a mutual agreement on a time lock. It can be three hours to allow each one of you quiet, uninterrupted time to complete projects. Time locks can boost productivity levels by 40% – 60%. If you’re your own time bandit, practicing psychological martial arts helps to nurture the power to overcome external stimuli that cause you to lose focus.
Leverage Practice Management Software
If you can’t keep up with the legal paperwork in your office, there’s a high probability you’ll fall short in time management. Using time and billing management software, such as LawBillity, allows you to accurately track down time to the very last second.
Typically, law firms fail to meet their projected revenue margins because the invoices have lower amounts than the amounts of billable work or service rendered. It is a clear indication that they suffer financially due to inaccurate time captures and estimations. With LawBillity, you have time management and billing software optimized for any device. It offers high flexibility and customizable time-tracking options to suit your firm’s specific needs. It simplifies time management and charging your clients to the very billable second.
Are you ready to streamline your law firm’s time management strategies? Try LawBillity for free for 14 days!