Billable hours for attorneys are an invaluable part of business which is why maximizing every billable hour is an important part of contributing to a law firm’s bottom-line. Here are a few tips on how to maximize your billable hours.
Know Your Worth
No matter how small of a task you do for a client and no matter how little time you spend on that task, you must bill for it. If you take a phone call that lasts 5 minutes, don’t downplay the value of those minutes. Five minutes a day over the course of a few months can add up to hours of billable time. Once you make that 5 minute call or complete that 6 minute task, add it to your billable hours.
Provide Clear Descriptions
When recording your billable time, don’t use vague descriptions. Vague descriptions encourage clients to dispute your invoice. The client may see a vague description for a 10 minute task, and they may decide that you’re attempting to deceive them and get more money that you deserve. To reduce the amount of billing disputes, try to be as descriptive and specific as possible in your descriptions.
Automate Administrative Tasks
If you’re an attorney who spends a significant amount of time on administrative tasks such as filing or answering phone calls that you can’t bill for, you are wasting money. Even if you can’t afford to hire administrative staff, automating some tasks will help free up the time you need to dedicate to billable tasks. Voicemail, email, and auto-responders are some of the easiest ways to automate some administrative tasks. Voicemail can answer noncritical calls while email and auto-responders can be setup to send messages that automatically answer FAQs without you having to answer common questions for each individual client.
If you decide to hire administrative staff, do not micromanage their work. Remember, paralegal and legal secretaries are professionals—they know how to do their job. If you attempt to control every aspect of how they do their job, you are spending time away from your billable tasks and possibly creating more work for employees whose expertise you are paying for.
It is critical not to get distracted by menial tasks. The minutes that you spend on anything that takes away from your tasks can add up to hundreds of lost hours over the course of years whether its micromanaging others or being accidentally distracted by social media. This all adds up to money left on the table. In order to maximize billable hours, you must remain focused during the workday and commit to completing client tasks that will generate much needed revenue.