Why it's so important to record your hours and 
expenses as you accrue them

By Jeremy Byellin
Blog Writer at Thomson Reuters

Most attorneys must track their hours and expenses to get paid, and getting paid is much easier when your records are accurate and organized. One of the simplest methods of keeping these records accurate and organized is tracking your billable hours and expenses as you incur them. Firm Central Time and Billing enables you to easily accomplish this by seamlessly integrating the process into your existing workflow.

With its all-in-one interface, Firm Central allows you to record your time spent on a particular activity for a particular client – often while you are working on that activity within Firm Central itself.

Indeed, the ability to easily log your hours is itself vital to maintaining up-to-date hour and expense records. Without such a capability, tracking your billable time and expenses may become a long and arduous undertaking, and the temptation to use your valuable time on another endeavor – perhaps one that is billable – may be just too great. But let’s say that one did make a habit of putting off immediately logging his or her hours and expenses. What’s the worst that could happen?

First, consider the following scenario: It’s been a busy month for one of your client matters, and, as a result, you’ve neglected to religiously log your hours as they accrue. You’re fairly certain that the client has exhausted her retainer, but you don’t know for sure because you haven’t compiled an invoice for the client matter for over a month.

Before you can notify the client that her retainer needs replenishment, you must have a current invoice to show. And to create an invoice, you must have a complete and accurate itemized accounting of all the billable hours and expenses attributable to the client matter. If you don’t have that, you’d better hope that you know where to look in the rest of your records to be able to correctly compile that information, potentially a month or longer after the work was done.

As one can imagine, sifting through records for billable time and expenses is likely going to be a time-consuming venture – unquestionably more so than the extra few seconds you’d have spent had you logged your hours as they accrued.

Unfortunately, wasting your time isn’t the worst thing; marking your billable hours so long after you worked them creates the risk of an inaccurate or incomplete invoice. And for ethical reasons, you have to err on the side of undercharging clients, rather than risk overcharging them.

In short, procrastinating on your billing logs almost certainly will cost you time and money.

What’s more, getting that potentially much-needed retainer replenishment will take even longer than had you been able to instantly generate an invoice from the hours and expenses that you had logged as they were incurred.

Of course, merely having to face the daunting task of digging through your calendars, phone records, and Word document revision history may even further deter you from completing this unattractive, but nonetheless necessary, task.

As such, the importance of marking your hours and expenses as they accumulate should be perfectly apparent – as should the need to use a tool that makes keeping such up-to-date records simple and painless.

Firm Central Time and Billing offers such ease in entering your billable hours and expenses and quickly generating a clean and professional invoice, that you can feel comfortable sending to your clients.

You shouldn’t be in the position of being hesitant to create your invoices – because if invoices don’t get sent out, you don’t get paid.

About the author 

Jeremy Byellin is an attorney practicing in the areas of family law and estate planning. Jeremy is knowledgeable in legal technology and enjoys writing about the benefits it can bring small law firms.