Contemporaneous Time Capture

The Excuse

Lawyers and paralegals are busy and have a lot of distractions during the workday that often take them off course when it comes to capturing billable time. The daily pressures of the normal work environment stand as one of the most common obstacles for attorneys and paralegals to properly track their billable time. Unfortunately, many lawyers and paralegals often think of stopping to track time as an unnecessary nuisance, but in fact it should be considered one of the most important things you must do with your workday. To make things worse, the current global pandemic has thrown many of our normal productivities out the window in that we now work from home and different distractors are ever present. Thus, with these additional stressors and distractions, we may be missing even more opportunities to capture billable time, which in turn, results in negative impacts on our businesses and our lives.

The Result

This results in many attorneys and paralegals postponing their time tracking and reconstructing it at a later point in the future, often from memory, and often in haste. We call this reconstructive time entry. Faced with an urgent billing need (or billing deadlines set by your firm), you must frantically reconstruct days, weeks or even months’ worth of tasks in retrospect by attempting to remember everything you’ve done. Sadly, this method of time tracking is especially prone to errors, resulting in severely mismanaged bills that could cost your firm hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost revenue and lost billable time.

The Case for Contemporaneous Time Capture

Accordingly, we strongly advocate the concept of contemporaneous timekeeping which is defined as simultaneously recording your time as you complete each job or task at hand during your workday. In practice, it stands as the complete opposite of what you may be doing now, which I will call reconstructive timekeeping (as described above). Contemporaneous time entry should ensure that your time entries hover near 100 percent accuracy without any need for attorneys to guestimate how much time they’ve logged for a job. And, as mentioned before, in the era of COVID-19 and all of the upheaval that the virus has thrown at us over the last 8 months, capturing your billable time accurately and contemporaneously is even more important because additional stressors are distracting us making reconstructive time entry even more difficult.

5 Tips to Capture Time

  1. TASK MANAGEMENT: Each day set out a list of tasks you intend to accomplish that day and as you check each item off your list, make a time entry immediately at that time. It takes some self-discipline, but it is totally doable. In fact, you may also want to make a sign and hang it in a place where you look often to remind you to do so;
  2. SOFTWARE: If you use Practice Management software, investigate whether marking task records or appointments “Done” in the software system will, in fact, automate a time entry for you. Most modern systems have some ability built in to help you automate time capture;
  3. SMART PHONE APPS: Make time capture easy by engaging as many tools as are available such as the ability to enter billable time on your smart phone or tablet when you’re away from your desk. Many software systems now offer this at little additional cost;
  4. END OF DAY PINKY SWEAR: Don’t leave for the day until you’ve accounted for your entire day. Since many of us now work from home, the commute between the office and home is much, much shorter (for me it’s up one flight of stairs) – use that time savings to promise yourself that you wont “leave the office” until you’ve accounted for your entire workday;
  5. REPORTING REVIEW: Run a daily time listing report at least once per week and look for gaps in your timekeeping days for that particular week. Even though this is a form of reconstructive time entry, if you’ve honestly missed an opportunity to bill your time, it’s easier to recall that within a day or two rather than weeks or months later
The COVID-19 pandemic is here and as of the writing of this article, is no where near over. With these additional stressors that we’ve not experienced before impacting our personal and work lives, when we are working (from wherever we may be) it is vitally important that we accurately capture as much billable time as possible. There are many tools available to us to capture our time and we should employ both automation and new personal disciplines to do so. This, in turn, helps us maintain or possibly improve business revenue. And, developing these new skills now will only benefit us in the future when the pandemic lifts and life returns to some sense of normalcy.


Still looking for some answers or additional tips to capture your time contemporaneously? Affinity is here to help. If you need assistance or have question, please contact AffinityConsulting Group by calling 877-676-5492, or simply request a consultation. 

Steve Best

Written by Steve Best

Steve is a Partner with Affinity, an expert in law firm business consulting, and a member of both the Florida and Georgia bars. Steve leverages his passion for technology, along with his knowledge in the practice of law to help his clients make their firms and departments more productive. Steve specifically focuses on the areas of document management and time, billing and accounting.

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