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March 15, 2012

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Time Tracking Software

Thanks for sharing the information. Keep it up.

Thanks
Michael

Allison Shields

Brett,

Thanks for joining the discussion. To avoid repeating myself, you and Ronnie might be interested in the reasons I think time tracking generally isn't the best approach for lawyers, as I explain more fully in my previous post on this issue: http://legalease.blogs.com/legal_ease_blog/2012/03/is-tracking-time-a-waste-of-time.html.

Brett Owens

Thanks Ronnie, thrilled to hear it!

Many of our users do now combine hourly billing with fixed-fee work - I have heard that Chrometa is just as helpful with the latter, and I'm really glad to hear it from you, Ronnie.

One secondary use that is also quite common is using Chrometa to get an accurate breakdown of your time, for productivity reasons. It's easy to get distracted online, and the best way to spend your time more productively is to quantify how much time is being spent on various tasks (productive and otherwise!)

Finally I appreciate Neil's comment that significant development work has been done over the past few years - this has certainly been the case with us. Passive time tracking is a complex problem that took us almost five years to get right...and our 2012 product roadmap is already full!

Allison Shields

Ronnie and Neil,

Thanks for your comments. While I think programs like these can have their place, one of the things that concerns me is the emphasis on time - particularly time as it relates to profitability. When lawyers like Ronnie say that keeping track of their time helps them to see if their non-hourly cases are profitable, what they are really saying is that they are comparing what they billed the client with what they "would have" made on the same case if they were billing by the hour. This continues the fiction that what lawyers really sell is time, rather than knowledge, expertise and solutions. This contributes to the commoditization of law practice.

Ronnie

I use and have used Chrometa for years, when I was working for someone else and now that I'm self-employed. It helps for both hourly and flat fee cases, as it helps me to accurately track my time, and allows me to see if I'm making a profit on the flat fees. The ability to automatically have certain items (such as all items with Young as the last name) into that file drastically reduces the time I spend reconciling. I was notorious for under-billing, for not being cognizant of the amount of time it takes to genuinely do something, because it didn't feel as though it SHOULD have taken that long. Chrometa helped me be far more accurate in my estimates, which in turn has allowed me to offer far more flat fee cases than I otherwise would.

(And no, I'm not employed by Chrometa. I pay for the service from my own pocket, not the firm account, and it has genuinely been a lifesaver for me.)

Neil J. Squillante

Regarding the lawyer who criticized this type of software, his comments are no longer applicable. Realizing this problem, the developers of these products have worked on automatically parsing the information their software collects so that it takes less time to transform the data into bills. He should take a look at the current generation of these products. As for the larger issue of the billable hour, we'll have to wait for the marketplace's verdict.

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