Bill Doran believes lawyers lose too many billable hours through inefficient and ineffective timekeeping practices. The best way not to lose billable hours, he says, is to keep time in real time — to keep an accurate record of what you are doing as you are doing it.
At the recent ABA Techshow in Chicago, Doran gave me a preview of what he describes as “the most advanced real-time timekeeping software” available for the legal market. Called Attorney Timekeeper, the cloud-based application includes several features designed to make time entry easy and intuitive. Doran’s company, Morning Waves LLC, will formally launch the application tomorrow, April 10.
The new application is focused as much on productivity as on timekeeping, says Doran, who has more than 25 years’ experience developing timekeeping and time-management systems. It achieves this through simple, one-touch timekeeping options.
When running, Attorney Timekeeper maintains a persistent list of your clients and matters, sorted starting with those you most recently worked on. To begin keeping time on a matter or to transition to a different matter, simply click that matter in the list to open a timer and get started. You can set it so you have to click to start the timer or have it start automatically when you touch a matter. You can also enter time manually.
I should note that Doran recommends that lawyers run Attorney Timekeeper on a tablet, keeping it open and available by your side as you work on your computer or other tasks. While the program’s many touch features make it ideal for a tablet, it runs perfectly well on a PC or Mac as well as on a smartphone.
A unique feature of Attorney Timekeeper is automatic capture of time spent on cell phone calls. If you authorize this feature, Attorney Timekeeper will pull your call records from your cell provider, match the records to your clients’ phone numbers, and enable you to decide whether and how to bill that time. (This works with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile accounts.)
Attorney Timekeeper also includes functions that let you set billing objectives, track your progress and monitor your billing effectiveness. If you have an annual billing goal, for example, you can set your objectives and monitor your progress towards meeting them. Similarly, you can monitor how much of your work time you actually bill, tracking it by the day, week, month or year.
As a matter of fact, Attorney Timekeeper will let lawyers make a game of it, enabling them not only to set and track time goals for themselves but also to challenge others to effectiveness contests. Run reports on your time spent at the office versus time actually billed and invite others — within your firm or elsewhere — to track and compare the same information.
This could be used for pure “sport,” Doran says, but it can also serve a practical function. If you see that your colleague is regularly 10 percent more efficient than you in keeping time, you can ask how he or she does it and maybe learn something that you can use, he explains.
The application includes embedded Uniform Task-Based Management System legal billing codes, which you select from a drop-down menu. This can be customized so that only certain billing codes appear; if you only do litigation, set it so only litigation-related codes appear in the list. Alternatively, you can build your own codes. Other billing preferences can also be customized, including whether to bill in minutes or tenths or quarters of an hour.
Time records can be exported to your billing system as csv, Excel or HTML.
Attorney Timekeeper is sold on a subscription basis, with pricing starting at $49.95 per user per month. A 30-day free trial is available.
I tried Attorney Timekeeper on both a PC and a tablet. Its strong point is, as promised, its ease of use. I agree with Doran that, the easier it is to capture your time, the more time you’ll capture. As I said above, this runs equally well on a tablet or PC, but the touch features of a tablet make that my preferred platform.
The primary downside that I see is the price. For less than $49.95 a month, you could get a full practice-management system that includes timekeeping and timers and that is more tightly integrated with your billing system. That said, the standalone aspect of this application, combined with its ease of use, may be appealing to you, in which case it may well be worth the price.
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