Billing has always been the thorn on the side of most paralegals. It doesn’t have to be as painful as some make it out to be, but it is annoying. One of the big pluses, for me, about working in-house, is that I do not have to bill my time anymore.
Some of you have asked me to show you how I used to keep track of my time. I’ve always been really bad at remembering things at the end of the day and I quickly figured out that I needed to keep track of what I was working on as I was working on it. So I developed my own system.
The chart below is a chart I kept on my desk throughout the day. Sometimes I would even take it with me into meetings so I could write notes to remind me what topics were discussed during the meeting.
If the law firm where you work does not give you a way to track your time manually and instead requests that you enter your time in whatever computer system is used to track time, I still suggest that you try to use a method similar to the one below in order to fully capture your day or at least come as close as possible to fully capturing your day. There are always going to be a few minutes and sometimes hours missing. Generally, those missing minutes or hours can be captured in what is usually known as non-billable number. Your practice area manager or human resources should give you the non-billable number when you start your employment.
|TIME||CASE NAME||CASE NUMBER||DESCRIPTION|
|.2||Smith v. Smith||2010-999999||Prepare correspondence to adversary regarding outstanding answers to interrogatories.|
|1.3||Wilson v. Roger||2008-999999||Review medical records received from Hospital X to assist with preparation of answers to interrogatories.|
Throughout the day I would keep little post notes with the time I started a particular project and the time I ended the project and then at the end of my day I would input the amount of time spent on each task in the first column. The reason for the post-it notes was because inevitably I would have to stop what I was working on and do something else only to have to go back to the original task. It was easier for me to keep all the start and stop times on a post-it note with the case number on it and then at the end of the day add everything up and just enter the time I actually worked on a matter. There were days when my chart would look like a Christmas tree with post-it notes as ornaments. You’d be surprised what a couple of .2’s can do for your billable hours.
I got into the habit, very early in my career, of tracking my time in this manner. I was never very good at relying on my memory at the end of the week or, worse, at the end of the month. It just never worked out for me.
I hope this was of some help. Please post a comment and let me know.