By Kate A From Women Lawyers News • November 25, 2018
It really bugs me to see anything holding amazing women lawyers back. And we talked yesterday about how crucial it is that you regularly calculate whether you’re on track for your billable hour target. That's why it breaks my heart a little when I see lawyers making these four mistakes:
"I'll just set billable hour goals for each week/month."
Lawyers that take this approach to tracking their time end up with very inaccurate numbers and often find themselves scrambling to catch up on hours. Why does this happen? Because billable hour math is not straightforward, so just dividing your target number into months or weeks doesn't work. For example, not all months have the same number of days, some have more weekdays depending on where they fall on the calendar, and others have holidays. Then you have to figure out how your vacations fit in. What about non-billable days, like if you attend a conference? What if you get sick? What if you bill more or less hours than expected this week? All of those factors change the number of hours you need to bill each day for the rest of the year to stay on track - that's why I created the Billable Hour BFF for myself in the first place.
"I’ll just use my firm’s timekeeping software."
Firm timekeeping software simply records your time. It’s designed to help your firm track your time and bill clients. It’s not designed to help you manage your hours. It doesn’t tell you whether you’re on track to make your billable hour goal for the year or how the amount you need to bill each day is changing as you go along.
"I’ll just keep billing away, and if I keep working hard it will add up to enough."
It’s tempting to just keep sprinting around like a squirrel, trying to gather as many billable acorns as possible. Have you ever noticed how stressed out squirrels look though? (I have, there are so many in my neighborhood.) The first problem with this approach is that because you’re not calculating, you’ll never know if you have enough hours so you’ll have to keep running around at a sprinting pace all the time, hoping it adds up right. You’ll feel stressed all the time, you won’t feel like you can take a break or make time for the things that matter to you, and you’ll feel really uptight every time you’re doing something that’s not billable - it will be really hard to relax. The other problem is, it still might not work, but you won’t know until the end of the year when it’s all over, because you don’t have the numbers along the way. And by that point, it's really hard to catch up if you don't have enough hours. I'm sharing the Billable Hour BFF with other women lawyers to save you that stress and uncertainty.
Not doing any billable hour calculations at all.
This one scares me the most. Even worse, some lawyers don’t bother to calculate whether they’re on track for their billable hour goal. They just bill what comes in and see where they land. It’s a good way to end up scrambling late in the year, miss your billable target, and miss your bonus. You need to regularly calculate whether you’re on track for your billable hour target. And, if you don’t want to waste time repeating those surprisingly tough calculations, you need an easy way to do that.
Here's to your billable hour success, without all the stress, math, and uncertainty!
PS - The Billable Hour BFF is there to help women lawyers easily avoid all four of these mistakes, so none of them stand in your way, but it's only available until Monday, December 3rd, because after that I have to work on other projects to help you in the new year.