Unlocking 21 Time Management Best Practices for Attorneys

Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO Jibble

Hi, I’m Asim Qureshi, a tech CEO and former VP of Morgan Stanley, with a passion for maximizing productivity and performance. With years of experience leading successful tech ventures and financial expertise gained from my tenure at Morgan Stanley, I have dedicated myself to leveraging technology to revolutionize time management practices for professionals. As the CEO of Jibble, a leading time tracking software company, I am at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to help legal professionals streamline their time tracking processes and optimize their productivity. 

Join me on a transformative journey as I share my expertise and guide you towards effective methods of time tracking for attorneys. Together, we can unlock your full potential and elevate your legal practice with valuable insights and practical solutions.

This article covers:


Getting Started

Staying Organized

Improving Accuracy

Managing Time Effectively

Staying Focused

Taking Care of Yourself

Final Thoughts: Improve Your Time Management Skills and Boost Your Law Practice

Overview: Best Practices and Benefits for Attorneys

Welcome to this article on time tracking best practices for attorneys! Here, we’ll provide valuable tips to help you improve efficiency and productivity in your legal business. We’ll cover essential strategies for keeping track of your time, staying organized, improving accuracy, managing time effectively, staying focused, and taking care of yourself. By implementing these practices, you can optimize your time management skills and achieve greater success in your legal career. Let’s explore these strategies to enhance your time management skills as a lawyer.

Getting Started

Tip 1: Keep Track of Your Time

Keeping track of your time is important for attorneys. You need to know how much time you spend on each task and activity, so you can bill your clients accurately and fairly. To do this, you should record your time as you work, not later. This way, you won’t forget or estimate your time wrongly. You can use a timer, a notebook, or a time tracking app to help you with this.

Tip 2: Break Cases Into Projects

Breaking cases into projects can help you stay organized and efficient. A project is a smaller part of a case that has its own goal and deadline. For example, a project could be researching a legal issue, drafting a document, or preparing for a trial. By dividing your cases into projects, you can track your progress, manage your information, and plan your time better. You can also use project management tools or software to help you with this. This approach also facilitates efficient time tracking, billing, and other administrative tasks associated with each specific case.

Tip 3: Set Realistic and Achievable Goals

You can work smarter and faster by establishing goals and timeframes. A goal is what you want to accomplish in a task or a case. A deadline is when you need to finish it by. Your goals and deadlines should be clear and specific, but also reasonable and flexible. For example, a goal could be to write a 10-page report by Friday. This goal is clear and specific, but it might not be reasonable or flexible if you have other urgent tasks or unexpected problems. You should adjust your goals and deadlines according to your situation and priorities.

Tip 4: Predefine Your Billing Terms

Predefining your billing terms can help you avoid misunderstandings and disputes with your clients. Billing terms are the conditions of your work, such as how much you charge, how often you invoice, and how long your clients have to pay. You should communicate these terms clearly and early on, before you start working on a case. You should also put them in writing, such as in a contract or an engagement letter. This way, you and your clients will know what to expect and agree on the terms of your work.

By following Best Practices in Time Tracking for Lawyers, these colleagues have more time to discuss case details.

Staying Organized

Tip 5: Be Clear and Specific

Being clear and specific can help you document your time entries better. Your time entries are the records of how much time you spend on each task and activity. You should write clear and concise descriptions for each time entry, so your clients can see what you did and why. This can help you provide transparency and accuracy in your billing, and avoid disputes or complaints from your clients.

Tip 6: Bill Timely

“Tracking billable hours can be challenging, but is essential for your business to succeed.” – American Bar Association

To maintain a steady cash flow and avoid payment delays, it is crucial to invoice your clients promptly and regularly. By sending out invoices in a timely manner, you demonstrate professionalism and ensure that you receive timely compensation for your services. Regular billing also helps you keep track of outstanding payments and address any issues promptly.

Tip 7: Communicate Well

Communicating well can help you build trust and rapport with your clients and colleagues. Communication is when you exchange information or ideas with others. You should maintain open communication with your clients regarding time spent on their cases, addressing any questions or concerns promptly. This can help you keep them informed and satisfied with your work. It’s also important to keep your colleagues in the loop, especially if you work in a team or share cases with others. This can help you coordinate your work and avoid confusion or mistakes.

Tip 8: Use Shortcuts and Templates

To improve efficiency and streamline your workflow, leverage time-saving shortcuts and templates for repetitive tasks or standard documents. By utilizing these tools, you can automate certain processes, reduce manual effort, and ensure consistency in your work. This allows you to focus more on the critical aspects of your cases and maximize your productivity.

Tip 9: Learn to Delegate

To make the most of your time and focus on important legal work, it’s crucial to delegate non-essential tasks or consider getting help from others. You can assign less important duties to capable team members or hire external professionals to handle them. This way, you’ll have more time for the important and complex legal matters. If your firm doesn’t have enough staff, it’s better to outsource tasks early on instead of waiting until you’re overwhelmed. Delegating tasks effectively can help you manage your workload better and ensure that you spend your time on the most important things that require your expertise and attention.

Improving accuracy

Tip 10: Track Non-billable Time

It’s important to keep track of the time spent even on non-billable activities, like administrative tasks or client consultations. By monitoring and recording these activities, you can gain a better understanding of how you utilize your time overall. This information can be valuable for analyzing your productivity, identifying areas for improvement, and making more informed decisions about resource allocation.

Tip 11: Use Attorney Time Tracking Tools

“The average small firm attorney now spends only 56% of their time practicing law.” – from Thomson Reuters Institute 2022 State of US Small Law Firms Report

Administrative tasks can really get in the way of meeting with clients and practicing law. Using a timesheet app helps ensure accurate time entries and provides valuable insights into work habits and efficiency. These tools can categorize time spent on tasks and cases, improving billing accuracy and recordkeeping. Tracking non-billable time, such as administrative tasks or client consultations, also offers insights into time usage. Monitoring both billable and non-billable time helps identify areas for improvement, enhance efficiency, and make informed decisions. Combining time tracking tools and monitoring non-billable time improves billing accuracy, recordkeeping, and provides insight into how you can optimize your habits and profitability.

Tip 12: Review Your Time

Regularly reviewing and verifying your time entries is essential to ensure accuracy and completeness. It is recommended to conduct this review on your billing cycle or at designated intervals. By thoroughly reviewing your recorded time, you can identify any potential errors or omissions, correct them promptly, and maintain accurate billing and recordkeeping. This practice also helps you stay organized and ensures that you have a clear and accurate picture of how you spend your time, allowing for better accountability and efficiency in your legal practice.

Managing Time Effectively

Tip 13: Allocate Time for Message Management

To manage your time effectively, allocate specific time slots for managing messages, including emails, phone calls, and social media messages. By dedicating focused periods for message management, you can prevent them from becoming a time-consuming distraction. Set aside designated time intervals to read, respond, and organize your messages, ensuring that you stay productive and maintain control over your communication channels.

Tip 14: Start Your Day with a To-Do List

To enhance your time management, start each day or week by creating a prioritized task list or work plan. By outlining your important tasks and responsibilities in advance, you can stay focused and organized. Prioritize your tasks based on urgency and importance, enabling you to tackle them efficiently and effectively. This can help you keep track of your progress, manage your priorities, and avoid procrastination.

Tip 15: Make Time Tracking Easy

Simplify your time tracking process by utilizing time clock software. These tools allow you to record your time on the go, ensuring accurate tracking even when you’re outside the office. Additionally, consider using time tracking kiosks with facial recognition in your office, providing a convenient and streamlined method for capturing your time entries. By making time tracking easy and accessible, you can ensure the accuracy and reliability of your time records.

Tip 16: Use Reports and Analytics

Leverage the power of time tracking reports and analytics to gain valuable insights into your productivity, billable hours, and areas for improvement. Time tracking software generates reports that highlight your work patterns, time allocation, and project progress. By analyzing these reports, you can identify opportunities to optimize your workflow, allocate your time more effectively, and identify areas where you can improve your productivity. The data-driven insights provided by reports and analytics help you make informed decisions to enhance your time management practices.

An attorney staying focused while working cases because of best practices in time tracking for lawyers.

Staying Focused

Tip 17: Identify and Eliminate Distractions

To stay focused on your work, it’s important to identify common distractions in your work environment. These distractions can include noise, interruptions, or temptations like social media or personal phone calls. Once you identify these distractions, take proactive steps to minimize or eliminate them. For example, you can create a quiet and dedicated workspace, turn off notifications on your phone or computer, or use noise-cancelling headphones. By removing or reducing distractions, you can improve your concentration and productivity.

Tip 18: Batch Similar Tasks Together

Grouping similar tasks together can help optimize your productivity and minimize context switching. Context switching refers to the mental effort required to shift between different types of tasks. By batching similar tasks, such as legal research or document drafting, you can stay in a focused mindset and complete them more efficiently. For example, you can schedule a block of time specifically for research tasks or dedicate a specific day for document drafting. By doing so, you can minimize the time and mental energy spent on transitioning between different types of work, leading to increased productivity.

Tip 19: Schedule Critical Tasks for Peak Energy Periods

Everyone has certain times of the day when they feel most alert and focused. These are your peak energy periods. It’s beneficial to schedule your most important or difficult tasks during these times to maximize your productivity. For example, if you are most alert in the morning, allocate that time for tasks that require critical thinking or decision-making. By aligning your energy levels with the demands of your work, you can tackle challenging tasks with greater efficiency and concentration, leading to better outcomes.

Taking Care of Yourself

Tip 20: Take Breaks and Recharge

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining focus and productivity. Instead of working for long stretches without a break, break your work into manageable time chunks, such as 25-30 minute intervals, followed by short breaks. During these breaks, step away from your work area, stretch, or engage in a brief activity that helps you relax and recharge. These short breaks can help prevent mental fatigue, enhance focus, and improve overall productivity. By incorporating regular breaks into your work routine, you can maintain your energy levels and sustain a high level of performance throughout the day.

Tip 21: Prioritize Self-Care and Work-Life Balance

In the demanding field of law, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Incorporating regular breaks into your work routine is one way to take care of yourself. These breaks provide an opportunity to recharge and maintain mental clarity, which can lead to higher productivity and overall well-being. Additionally, make sure to establish boundaries between work and personal life. Set aside dedicated time for activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment outside of work. By prioritizing self-care and work-life balance, you can reduce stress, prevent burnout, and maintain a sustainable and fulfilling legal career.

Final Thoughts: Improve Your Time Management Skills and Boost Your Law Practice

Time management is a crucial skill for attorneys who have to juggle multiple tasks and cases. These best practices can help you streamline your workflow, bill accurately, stay organized, manage your time, and balance your work and life. By optimizing your time management skills, you can deliver exceptional legal services and achieve your professional goals. Embrace these time tracking tips and unlock your full potential for your law practice.