For the past three years, the team at Smokeball legal practice management software has been working on AutoTime. AutoTime is a total revelation for small law firms whether working on time billed or fixed fee (or as is common, a combination of both) as it performs two key functions.
1. AutoTime tracks all the time you work on each matter, starting and pausing timers, detecting when your mouse has gone idle, for all of your time billed work. This includes all the time spent creating legal documents in Word, drafting and reading emails, creating file notes, and attending meetings and court. AutoTime then creates your time entries for you.
2. AutoTime also tracks the time each staff member spends on your fixed fee matters. In the administrative side of Smokeball, law firm owners associate a total amount of cost per staff member that we then break down to an hourly rate so that you can see exactly who spent what time on each matter, and importantly, how much that time cost you versus what you billed.
For your time billed work
The proof is there with AutoTime. 70% of our clients using AutoTime for their time entries bill more than 4 hours per fee earner per day, while only 20% of our clients manually entering their time bill more than 4 hours per fee earner per day. If you are manually time recording, you are potentially leaving hours of work per day, hours that you worked, unbilled.
You don’t want to give up control of your timesheet? You’re very particular with your descriptions? We understand. We create pending time entries throughout the day, that you can easily view, edit the descriptions of, make non-billable and more. Overnight these entries will post to your matters.
AutoTime also helps your clients see the value in the work you are doing. Many of our clients were performing dozens of tasks for clients each day that they decided not to bill, but these were not reflected in the timesheet. With AutoTime, even tasks you choose to be written off or zero charged, can appear on your invoice so your client sees the full gambit of the work you are performing for them.
For your fixed fee work
Best practice for your fixed fee work is to track your time so you know whether these matters are profitable or not, however I’ve met precisely one firm in the last 20 years who does this. Tracking your time is miserable enough on your time billed work, why would you do it on your fixed!
The Matter Insights reporting in Smokeball changes this. You can see on an individual matter who spent what time and perhaps see opportunities to leverage less expensive staff to do more of the heavy lifting on that work. You can also see these insights across a whole area of law, or by fee earner. Are there practice areas that really aren’t worth your time? Or perhaps you simply need to increase your fee.
Some firms we work with have decided that beyond a certain number of hours work, a matter should switch to time billed. Insights they simply would not have had without Smokeball.
With the trend to fixed fee work increasing in many practice areas, this reporting means your firm will no longer be flying blind.
To learn more about AutoTime, contact us on 1300 33 55 53 or book a personalised online demonstration.