Time Tracking for Attorneys

by Meryl K. Evans

Despite all the technology and software out there, time tracking for attorneys is often done with a timer or by hand. Here’s a typical scenario. An attorney schedules an hour every morning to make phone calls for her cases. She opens a timer in software like QuickBooks or Clio.

As she starts to make her first call, she clicks the timer. Upon hanging up, she clicks it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Clicking the timer is easy, but constantly toggling the button at the start and end of every little task get in the way of the ebb and flow of work.

In today’s multitasking world, does anyone sit and make phone calls or go through emails for 10 minutes straight? With many of us multitasking, it’s easy to become absorbed in the work that we can forget to do a little thing like clicking the timer.

A lawyer may remember to record the activity later on, but he won’t necessarily remember exactly how much time he spent on it. We don’t want to overcharge clients nor do we want to short ourselves by entering a time less than the actual time spent.

Some lawyers keep track of time by writing it down — a more disruptive process to be sure: Stop task, pick up favorite gold pen (or find one), note activity, do next task. More steps than clicking a mouse or tapping a screen. So what less disruptive time tracking software for lawyers are there?

Enter Automatic Background Time Tracking Software

Most of us do work on connected devices like laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones. Because of this, time tracking software for attorneys that run in the background may be the ideal solution. These applications track everything you do electronically without your toggling anything. Just go about your day writing emails, drafting documents, answering phones and attending meetings.

In other words, do you work and don’t worry about pressing the button or picking up the pen to track your time. Time tracking software for attorneys like Chrometa can track everything you do across devices, so you’re not limited to one computer.

Still, can passive time recording software make sense of the activities? Sort by client? Most lawyers don’t work in silos. They don’t spend 30 minutes sending emails related to just one client. Rather, most work through their inboxes from top to bottom regardless of client or project. In less than five minutes, you can see one person’s time tracking data showing activity on four different emails. Imagine the time wasted clicking the timer twice for each one.

Chrometa can capture time entries, use rules to assign each to the right client or matter and then export it to Clio, QuickBooks or another billing system for easy invoicing.

The time tracking software for attorneys also lets you tag files, folders and URLs with client accounts or client matter numbers to filter work history. You can create keyword-based rules so Chrometa can automatically assign the entries to a specific client, project or matter.

Tracking Calls and Meetings

In its first release, Chrometa tracked time on one computer. Then it expanded to include more computers. Now it tracks time on Android smartphones (an iOS version is in the works). Chrometa Time Tracker for Android can automatically turn phone calls into billable time when you make calls on your Android phone.

The app captures the date, time spent and person spoken to. Chrometa imports these as time entries on your Chrometa account. Then you can send the entries to a timesheet, invoice or billing system.

If you step away from your computer to attend a meeting or to make a call, the software records your away time. As soon as you return to your computer, a popup box appears to give an opportunity to record your away time. Here you can capture meetings and calls made on non-Android phones.

Marrying Time Tracking for Attorneys with Practice Management

Many attorneys use law firm practice management software like Clio, PCLaw and Rocket Matter. Chrometa is integrated with all three for seamless time tracking and billing management.

With Clio, all you have to do is a one-click import to move the time you capture with Chrometa into Clio and the invoicing is done.

If you don’t use any of these programs, you can automatically export your time into Basecamp, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Sage Timeslips, Xero, Excel spreadsheet or CSV. Most billing programs import Excel spreadsheets and CSV. We also have an open API so you can import your time to other third-party applications or a homegrown system.

Starting a Stopwatch

Lori Paul compares Chrometa with two other comparable solutions in  Affordable Time Tracking Solutions for Attorneys . She reports that the competitors’ programs do a good job of recording time, but they don’t make it clear on how to export time for billing.

“While these programs may capture your time, if you have to spend time recreating your billable time to enter into a billing program, it completely defeats the purpose of the time capturing program,” she writes.

In Hate Tracking Time? Chrometa Can Help, the Nutmeg Lawyer aka Adrian Mark Baron writes that Chrometa reveals his biggest time wasters and, more importantly, when he is underbilling. Yes, even attorneys while away time on Facebook like everyone else.

“Chrometa is like having your mother standing over you to make sure you do your homework,” Baron writes. “Every time I have the urge to wander the internet, I tend to balk knowing it will be recorded by Chrometa.”

The team at Chrometa created this time tracking software for lawyers so they can work without spending any time turning their tracked time into invoices. Furthermore, Chrometa does not capture keystrokes or content for the sake of protecting client and attorney confidentiality.

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