Managing and tracking your billable hours is about more than just accurately tracking the hours you spend working on a case. A client will expect his or her attorney to operate logically and fairly, putting in exactly the right amount of hours into a particular case.
For this reason, tracking your billable hours is as much about culture as it is technology. Today, we’re going to take a look at the culture behind billable hours, how you can maintain that fine balance between fair and excessive, and how you can track those hours more accurately.
Building a Trusting Relationship with Clients
A trusting relationship between you and your clients includes offering fair billable hours. Typically, an average associate would produce anywhere between 1,750 and 2,000 billable hours. For smaller firms, 1,500 is also quite normal.
It’s important to stick to the general rule that your billing should be roughly 70% of the total worked time. Any more, and your client may begin looking elsewhere to find a client that gets results more quickly and ultimately charges less.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your client in depth about the processes that will be required to complete their case, and how much time you expect to have to spend on each part of the project. Discuss what they expect from you, and of course, discuss their budget so you are fully aware of how much they are willing or able to spend.
By considering the budget of your client, you can come up with a plan to maintain a rough estimate. This also makes it easier to draw up a timeframe for you and your client. This builds trust, and when you stick to a schedule and stay within the budget for your client, you’re also more likely to have them return to you for further services.
Track Your Hours Accurately, Always
Tracking billable hours has long been an operation based entirely on trust – and it certainly hasn’t been simple. Thanks to new technology, attorneys and legal professionals can now log their billable hours with great ease, and even provide instant access to recorded information to clients.
PracticePanther, a complete legal management software solution, makes it easier to log the work that you do and then track the hours spent on each project. The hours tracked can be forwarded to clients and accessed by colleagues if necessary.
To top it off, PracticePanther has a file management system that makes it much easier to keep all of your documents relating to the case organized.
By utilizing technology, such as an encrypted file management system and billable hours tracker, and combining that with proper planning before beginning any legal project, you can foster a trusting relationship with your clients. It’s amazing what technology can do, and it’s well worth considering!