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What to consider when choosing a time recording and capture solution

Nick JennerIt’s no secret among law firms that technology leaders tend to perform better. In 2020, 47% of tech leading firms reported increased profitability in the last 12 months, compared to 28% of transitioning firms, and just 13% of the trailing firms1.

So what should you take into consideration when making your next tech investment? How do you decide on what software is best for your firm when purchasing a new time recording and capture solution? There’s a lot to consider and as it will directly affect your firm’s revenue, it’s crucial to get right the first time.

To understand this on a deeper level, we spoke to Nick Jenner, Product Manager of Carpe Diem, Advanced’s time recording and capture solution who helped shed some light on the different stakeholders found at law firms, as well as what they specifically need from a time recording and capture solution. 

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“In order to accommodate all stakeholders it’s important to think of the entire time recording and capture process, from start to finish and consider who is involved throughout. What do they value? What do they seek to gain from a time recording and capture platform? How can they streamline processes and increase efficiency?” Explains Nick.

He continues, “Time recording is the cornerstone of any law firm as it has a direct impact on how much revenue the firm can bill for. The amount of revenue that’s generated ultimately impacts the firm’s profitability.” As a result, there are many different stakeholders within a law firm who care about time recording. This includes lawyers, legal assistants/administrators, billing and finance teams, partners/group practice managers, IT teams, and lastly the clients themselves. Every single stakeholder has a different set of priorities and needs that must be met.

Nick then breaks down the different stakeholders and their needs, detailing what they look for in a time recording and capture platform. He starts with lawyers, “Lawyers are tasked with meeting tough daily and weekly targets, making time recording a critical yet unwelcome distraction from fee earning work. This means that lawyers want to record as much time as possible, but as quickly and easily as possible. Their priorities lie with being able to record time from any location, on any device, even when they’re offline.” 

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Nick elaborates, “The accessibility aspect is also enhanced by integration at a user level with other software used by the lawyer, and by keeping time recording always within view via a dockable sidebar it acts as a constant time recording assistant.”

He also explains that Natural Language Processing makes it possible to dictate or loosely draft a time entry, using unstructured text that can then be turned into a suggested time entry. Lastly, to assist with hitting their aggressive targets, lawyers will welcome any help with recovering time that was not captured whilst they were working. The best time recording and capture solutions on the market offer ‘passive’ capture, allowing lawyers to track their digital footprint as they go about their working day. This includes when they’re viewing web pages, drafting emails, and making phone calls.

Continuing on we moved on to discuss the second stakeholder group, legal assistants and administrators. “These individuals are under more pressure than ever before. They’re tasked with meeting the administrative needs of more and more fee-earners, and are receiving time records in various formats, and must find ways to enter this information as quickly and as accurately as possible. ” He continues, “Therefore, mouseless entry is important, so they can quickly jump from field to field, to enter data. The ability to import data in bulk from a spreadsheet is also valuable to this group, but even more useful are tools such as Natural Language Processing. As I previously mentioned, this makes timekeeping a conversation rather than just data entry. ”

His final point for legal assistants concludes with “It is paramount for assistants to inherit the profile of the lawyer they’re entering time for, so they can enter time as though they are the lawyer they’re entering time for.”

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Nick then turns his attention to the billing and finance team. “Their priority is to ensure the firm is paid as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Whilst it’s important to maximise revenue through capture, time records also need to be compliant with Outside Counsel Guidelines  (OCGs). Otherwise, much of the captured time will be written down or written off, thus eroding realisation rates.” 

He continues, “For this reason the billing and finance team need a time recording and capture solution that makes lawyers aware of the relevant OCGs, at the exact moment they need them too. ” He continues “Prevention, after all, is better than a cure. However, if a lawyer does continue to enter a record that is non-compliant with a rule within the OCGs, the time capture solution should also be able to spot this and stop them from submitting.” 

Enforcing compliance at the right juncture is crucial. Validation shouldn’t make the capture of time more onerous for the lawyer, otherwise it will act as an impediment. However, the cost of non-compliance rises exponentially the further down the line it gets. For example, a compliance breach caught at the point of submission can be corrected by the lawyer in a few seconds. However, if that same non-compliant goes to the finance team, it can take much longer, and delay the billing cycle. Even worse, it could be missed and go onto an invoice, causing the invoice to be rejected. Nick explains “Rejected invoices cause lengthy and costly delays in the billing cycle as well as costly write downs, and clients will not look fondly upon poor billing hygiene, so it’s important for the law firm not to make a habit of this.”

The fourth stakeholder group are practice managers. They are tasked with making their practice area run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible, whilst maximising their economic contribution to the law firm too. Nick says, “This is facilitated by accessible, timely, reliable, and actionable practice management data and a big portion of this will be time recording data. Therefore, when choosing a time recording and capture solution, practice managers care about the visibility of timekeeping performance data, and the reporting that contributes to accurate forecasting.”

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Perhaps the stakeholder group that needs most convincing when it comes to selecting a new solution is the IT team. Nick explains, “IT care about enabling a smooth, effective, and cost-efficient practice of law across the entire firm. Their priorities would be time recording that is robust, reliable, and secure. Because of this, they will appreciate vendors with a proven track record in the Cloud, and a solution that is backed by third party accreditation such as ISO 27001, CyberEssentials Plus, and SOC.” In addition to this, they are increasingly looking at solutions that are extensible, with modern APIs that make integration simple at both a technical and a user level.

Clients are the final group that Nick discusses. “Clients care about being able to capture, control, and assess value for money in terms of legal spend. They want to work with law firms that provide them with timely and accurate invoices that are also compliant with their OCGs.”

He explains “In this way they can compare the performance and value of legal services, both in-house and external. GCs use this in their strategic decision-making, and to demonstrate value to the board.”

Nick concludes, “When done correctly, timekeeping can deliver enhanced profitability and improved client relationships. When a time recording and capture solution meets the needs of all stakeholders, the firm can be confident that its new timekeeping solution will be widely adopted and the firm will see benefits to profitability, compliance, retention, security, and competitiveness.” 

Want more tips on how to select the right time recording and capture solution for your firm? Our webinar discusses what large and small firms should be looking for in a time recording and capture solution, which you can view by clicking here

1 2021 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer, Moving Beyond the Pandemic – Survey Report

Nick Jenner has over 15 years’ experience working in the legal technology sector. During this time he has worked closely with both in-house corporate legal teams and law firms on different solutions covering automated document drafting, matter management, legal spend management, legal bill review and time capture and recording. Nick joined Advanced as the Carpe Diem Product Manager in January 2019.
 

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