BEST PRACTICES IN BILLING #5
If you charge on the basis of recorded time, whether you do it by writing down what you do, entering it by keyboard or touch screen into a data base, or dictating it for transcription, make the entry immediately after you complete the work and not later that day, during the week or at the end of the month. The entry must be made while the effort is fresh in your mind. Make the entry as though your client was sitting across the desk from you and you were explaining what you did, why you did it and how it helped the client.
If you are not in the habit of making time entries immediately after performing work, this may be a difficult transition for you, but it is a necessary one for several reasons. The conventional wisdom is that you will record more accurately all of your time if it is entered immediately after the work is performed. If you wait until the end of the day, week or month, your memory will not be as good and work will be missed.
While capturing all work is important, a more important reason for contemporaneous entries is that the content will be better and the time entry accurate and fair. The content will be better because the work is fresh. The opportunity to “talk” to your client in the entry will more likely lead to a better explanation of the work. If something took you longer than it should have because you were distracted during the work, your entry is more likely to be fair and accurate if made immediately after the work is performed. So as you are entering time and activity, visualize your client and explain what you did, why it was necessary and how it helped when appropriate.
Review the invoices before they are sent to the client and conduct the review from the mindset of your client. If you see entries that would puzzle, annoy or offend you as the client, make the necessary changes. Have trusted non-lawyers working in your firm review the invoices with you.
Next: Invoice Appearance is Important.
The PMAS is a multifaceted Bar program designed to help Bar members improve and enhance management skills in the practice of law. Daniel Mills, assistant director for PMAS, Regulation Counsel, and Rochelle Washington, senior staff attorney, PMAS, can be reached at 202-737-4700, ext. 3212 and 3217, respectively, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Evaluating the many and varied software applications that make time and billing more manageable is beyond the scope of this article. Which application is best is a fact sensitive inquiry.