How Can Reducing Non-Billable Hours Make Good Legal Firms Better?

Billing, Legal Technology

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We all agree that the primary source of revenue for law practices is client billing. However, plenty of the activities required to operate, invoice, and make money are examples of non-billable hours. Often considered as the nuts-and-bolts of a firm’s operation, firms should reevaluate these tasks – this is a business, after all.

What non-billable tasks can be automated?

The more organized and efficient a firm can be, utilizing legal technology to streamline essential processes and automating tedious administrative work, the more cost-effective, capable, and successful it will be. 

Most law practices know this. However, many are reluctant or resistant to change because maintaining the status quo – the old and familiar (mostly manual processes), seems easier. There can be pain in disruption, time and effort spent changing, frustration, and annoyance in learning something new.

But many firms recognize that their legal practice is a business, just like any other type. For those willing to upgrade tools, adopt new technology and improve operational performance – to swap multiple, outdated, cobbled-together systems that “sort of work” for a single, simplified one – the benefits are undeniable. An interconnected solution that saves time, reduces errors and improves the bottom line.

Consider tedious or repetitive administrative duties, such as client intake, timekeeping, and office management. These take up vast amounts of time and without generating revenue. Tracking and eliminating as many non-billable hours as possible with automation is essential to becoming a more efficient, cost-effective firm, improving attorney satisfaction and client relationships.

How non-billable hours add up for the average law firm

We know that for law firms to be profitable, lawyers must spend time focusing on billable hours. As mentioned non-billable tasks are, of course, a vital part of legal practice. However, these needed activities steal time away from other valuable work.

Billable vs non-billable hours: Where do lawyers spend their time

The 2019 Legal Trends Report found the average American lawyer performed just 2.5 hours of billable work each day, demonstrating that most of the attorney’s day is spent on non-billable activities. So, it’s clear that the ways attorneys allocate their time between practicing law and everything else it takes to keep the firm running require closer examination.

But where does the time go? Excluding effort expended attracting clients, the non-billable hours spent retaining clients, managing them, doing billing and collections, and other tasks can really add up.

Human error may consume many of those hours, which not only wastes time but can lead to even more extensive and more costly problems. An ABA study found that administrative errors – such as incorrect calendaring, clerical errors, failure to file documents, procrastination, lost files/evidence, etc. – made up 23% of all malpractice claims a few years ago.

Firms eager to maximize efficiency and strengthen their bottom line should investigate ways to decrease time spent on non-billable tasks in the interest of giving lawyers more time to work on client-focused billable activities.

Creating efficient processes through legal technology

Legal practice management technology is one of the best ways to increase lawyer efficiency, decrease time and resources spent on manual efforts, and minimize costly human mistakes. Specifically, automating file maintenance, calendaring, timekeeping, and billing will provide lawyers greater ability to service clients, generate new business and drive profit. Practice management solutions offer a powerful way to automate, save time, and reduce human error.

Payment and time tracking are crucial and often done manually. Practice management software automatically tracks hours in the background as firm staff works on their client’s matters and enables invoicing online. Utilizing automatic payments means faster processing than paper billing systems, ensuring the collections process moves faster too and missed payments are less likely.

Benefits of automation software

Automation software may seem to be an unwanted expense; however, the initial investment can pay dividends in the long term by saving money and time. Link your email and calendar, document management program, and accounting program to your cases, and get everything you need all in one place.

By diverting time and money away from manual tasks, practice management software makes firms more efficient and frees up resources to drive new business. This increases attorney satisfaction, as lawyers have additional time to focus on relationship building and revenue-generating activities.

Eliminating human error and streamlining processes also improves the client experience, increasing satisfaction, and better attorney-client relationships.

How can you simplify your practice?

Law office automation software is a valuable investment for any firm looking to improve efficiency and increase profit by reducing time, money, and resources spent on non-billable hours. AbacusNext offers bundled tech solutions that optimize the areas of your practice that need improvement, creating better calendar workflows, simplifying time-tracking and billing, and freeing up attorneys to focus on revenue-generating activities and client relationship-building.

Empower your legal practice with technology built by lawyers for lawyers. Streamline your firm’s operational challenges with software and service bundles designed to enhance your capabilities across the firm, both in-office and remote – making good firms better.

Identify the AbacusNext legal practice management software package that best addresses your needs and goals, whether it’s something basic or more comprehensive. Contact us to learn how we can help you reclaim hours of your precious time.

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