Posted on 26/06/2019 by admin
Time recording is an important part of any business that provides a service and a solicitors practice is no exception.
If you don’t record all time, how do you know if you are making a recovery on the work you are doing? Or that your fee earners are productive enough?
Fixed fee conveyancing work is a common area where practice’s do not record their time, with many not seeing the point in recording their time when the fee won’t change anyway.
However, if you don’t record your time then how do you know whether you are charging a high enough fixed fee?
Inevitably with fixed fee work there will be occasions where you make an under recovery on the work done, that’s just the nature of offering a fixed fee. But if you were time recording then you could establish how often an under recovery occurs or whether there is a specific area that you always under recover on, or a specific staff member that always under recovers!
As an example, you may identify that new build conveyancing always take longer than all other conveyancing and so you’ve spent the last year making an under recovery on them.
Outcome: create a separate fixed fee for new build conveyancing that is higher than the other conveyancing work. Instant recovery achieved!
Also, you may be wondering if your fee earners are productive enough. Some practices have reported that fee earners are recording as little as 4 chargeable hours per day. If you could establish what they are doing for the other half of the day then would their fee income increase by half as well?
Only recording chargeable hours isn’t enough. A fee earners timesheet should record their entire working day so that you can identify what they are doing with the time they aren’t charging to clients.
Common reasons for under recording of time includes:
1. Too much time spent on admin tasks
2. Not charging for travel time to and from clients
3. Pressure to make recoveries on jobs so not posting time where it will create an under recovery
4. Being “fair” to the client
5. General lack of discipline within the firm when it comes to applying the time recording policies
In order to overcome some of these issues you should implement a detailed time recording policy that all staff must adhere to. A good policy should include:
1. When to record you time – as you are going along, at the end of each day etc
2. What time to record – record everything! All time spent in the office and working at home
3. How to record it – split between matter related and non-matter related
4. Define how much time can be spent per day on “bit and bobs” – nobody is 100% productive so build in some slack for that 5 minutes spent daydreaming
5. Describe the time – e.g. preparing for meeting, travel to clients, client call regarding progress update
Once the policy has been implemented then you have the available information to analyse staff performance and help your profits grow!
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