How do Lawyers Track Billable Hours (Best Way To Track Time)

How do Lawyers Track Billable Hours (Best Way To Track Time)

Saad Ali
Written by Saad Ali
August 21, 2023

Being the owner of a law firm or simply a lawyer, the work is very complex.

It includes many tasks, from paperwork, calls, and emails, to management; lawyers must manage their time and the employees’ time smartly.

However, some tasks are counted as billable hours while others are done.

Moreover, there’s a consistent switch between both, which makes it harder for law firms to calculate. Our traditional methods are becoming obsolete, but how do lawyers track billable hours?

Let’s find out.

Traditional Billable Hours Tracking Methods

Billable hours mean that whatever work is put in these hours will be charged to a client according to the contractual rate.

Usually, attorneys are the ones who keep track of the billable hours.

However, even that could be a complicated job.

But why is that? Lawyers and other employees work a handful of jobs during the day. Some of these tasks are billable, and the other ones aren’t. Moreover, a lawyer might work various jobs with different billable hours.

So no one-step solution will cure everything using these traditional methods.

There’s also a lot of admin work that is considered non-billable hours. So, the question remains, how exactly do lawyers track time?

And how do they avoid underbilling or overbilling and manage their firm so that no one gets in trouble? Here are some of the ways attorneys track time.

According to Clio’s 2017 Legal Trends Report, the typical lawyer invoices for under 30% of their working day, dedicating an equivalent duration to prospecting for new clients.

📊 Google Sheets/Excel Sheets

Excel sheets are the most common way to track and count billable hours.

It features endless possibilities and allows attorneys to track time in one of the easiest ways possible. However, it also comes with its set of problems.

While sheets might be the best traditional way to calculate billable hours, manual work and memory are required.

With so many employees, clients, and sheets, Attorneys need to work solely on their memories and then identify which sheet to open.

Moreover, from applying formulas, adding rates, and calculating the pay, all these things add up and make things difficult instead of easier.

So if the hours aren’t registered right at the end of each task, there’s still a huge room for error.

Most people calculate time using a different tool and then import them into Excel sheets, which is a good replacement but still requires a lot of manual effort.

The best part about Excel is that you get endless customization options, and most online tools are also compatible with Excel and Google Sheets.

So, when you use a project management and time tracking tool, most have Google Sheets available.

You can integrate Google Sheets and still benefit a lot from it.

The only problem is that you’ll miss out on many advanced options and insights and use manual entries, which is counter-productive for an attorney.

📆 Calendar

Calendars have a long history of helping with management, especially when they entered the digital world.

Now, popular Calendar tools like Google Calendar and Calendly are helping lawyers to fill tasks and hours on a calendar manually.

Moreover, these calendars also help add entries for the day, week, or even month.

Calendars are amazing for sorting projects, planning what’s on schedule, and efficiently executing their way.

However, they do come at a disadvantage.

For example, a lot of manual energy would be required to track billable hours.

Most calendars only can track time if they have built-in time-tracking software directly.

And when you finally fill out everything manually, you’ll still miss out on many customization options. Retrieving information in calendars is hard but great for meeting planning.

But when it comes to a lawyer’s billable tracking hours, the margin for error is too big of a risk to use. While calendars are one of the most efficient tools for lawyers, they are also counterproductive.

Calendars are good when planning to take on calls and meetings, but there’s a limit to how much they can cater to your needs.

But when things like tracking billable hours come, calendars become tedious to use.

Plus, they don’t have any automated option you can leverage.

📧 E-mail

Email services are also an important tool most lawyers and attorneys use to track time.

Managing cases also incorporates going through a flow of emails.

Moreover, for management to track time, they sometimes need to go through dozens of emails to see the progress and how many hours are billable, and they would still need billing software to track time.

While a timestamp accompanies emails, there’s much manual work to do.

A lot of work is required per email to track tasks and hours spent on different clients.

It’s a common practice for attorneys to track email timestamps, add them to another billing software, and generate an invoice.

However, several tasks are recurring and don’t require email communication.

Those tasks can easily be forgotten, hurting the whole firm, especially employees.

Emails are an effective and secure form of communication, even in 2023.

But they’re too slow, and there’s too much management required to keep it moving.

So, for attorneys to use email and track billable hours, it also comes with many problems and


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💻 Task Management Tools

Task management tools are tools that allow you to assign and manage employees’ tasks in a more user-friendly way than Excel Sheets, Calendars, and Emails.

These are an excellent replacement for most things, but when tracking billable hours, you can do only so much with them.

Task management tools are considered a great asset for lawyers as they can help improve productivity, reduce management stress, improve accuracy, and even let you focus on better decision-making.

Most law firms use task management tools for their daily tasks, but billable hours need to be improved. Why?

Because most task management tools don’t have billable trackers.

However, tools like Trello can integrate time management tools, allowing you to track billable hours.

In the end, if you’re using task management tools, you should instead consider shifting towards time management and productivity tracking tools for the best possible experience.

Time Analytics: The Best Time Tracker to Track Billable Hours

While all the above techniques have pros and cons, the best solution for lawyers and attorneys is to work with a time-tracking tool.

Tracking tools are usually built to generate billable hours without human error or chances of error in general.

Knowing the time spent during a workday is important for the management since they can charge their clients and pay their employees accordingly.

That’s why a tool like Time Analytics is perfect for lawyers and attorneys to track their time.

With time analytics, you can:

  • Track every hour and minute of an employee’s working day. The tool only needs the lawyers to start and stop the tracker with a simple button click.
  • Keep your team productive without micromanagement. This allows law firms to focus on growing the revenue without having to manage each employee and constantly disturb their workflow.
  • Get insights from employees’ timesheets. The timesheets allow management to get data about the team’s time on a project, clients, work tasks, and time off.
  • Client time billing allows you to save weekly hours and create transparent invoices with time billing.

To track billable hours, you need a tool to avoid billing confusion.

For example, emails need to be clarified when you manually have to track the time.

But with time analytics, you can create accurate invoices and reports in minutes.

The tool will automatically track your team’s billable hours, and they’ll only have to start the timer on billable tasks.

The tracker will automatically get all the information; at the end of the day, it will provide you with the necessary information.

Making Tracking Billable Hours for Lawyers Easier

Firstly, time tracking allows attorneys to create transparent invoices and presentations.

You can find the clients to be billed and the billable projects.

This excludes the confusion on which projects are billable and which are not.

Moreover, Time Analytics seamlessly integrates with Excel for law firms and attorneys who like to use Excel for extreme data manipulation. It allows you to export an invoice in Excel.

You can even make final adjustments if necessary.

Using a time tracking tool, you can increase profitability by up to 20% and increase overall revenue.

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Getting Started with Time Analytics

Time Analytics is a time-tracking and productivity-boosting tool that allows businesses to control their billable and non-billable hours. It also allows them to monitor productivity and how much time is spent on each task and generates advanced reports for further data tracking.

If you’re an attorney or in a managerial role in a law firm, then using a tool like Time Analytics will exclude half of the roadblocks in your job.

By automating them with Time Analytics, you can spend the most time doing more valuable and productive tasks instead of repetitive tasks.

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FAQ Section

  1. How are billable hours tracked?

    Billable hours are tracked using a timesheet or time-tracking software before invoicing the client based on the contractual rate. The software automatically calculates the bill based on the information it is inputted.

  2. Which software tracks billable hours of projects?

    Many software companies like Everhour, Hubstaff, Hive, Desktime, and more exist. However, if you’re looking to track time at the best possible price, with all the necessary features for lawyers, Time Analytics is the ideal option. From tracking time to billable hours, it features all the options needed for a law firm to thrive.

  3. How many billable hours do most law firms require?

    On average, law firms maintain a yearly target between 1500-2300. However, it depends on the firm’s size, and there are different goals from firm to firm. Some firms might even go more than 2300.

Saad Ali

Saad started his Content Writing journey in 2019 on Fiverr, where he catered to over 100 businesses in different niches like SaaS, Crypto, Meta, Gaming, Entertainment, and more.

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