Ep 70 – Time Tracking & Practice Management for Law Firms

Ep 70 – Time Tracking & Practice Management for Law Firms

We talk about legal practice management and then interview Patrick Vernallis from the law firm management software company Bill4Time, to discover how lawyers are running the practice of tomorrow, today!








Law Firm Disruption & Technology

Today’s Hot Take comes to us from Knowledge@Wharton, called,”What’s Really Driving Disruption (It’s Not Technology), ” by Harvard professor Thales Teixeira.  In this article, which is actually a podcast transcription, they explain why customer behavior, not technology, ultimately drives disruption.

“The emergence of a new technology is often cited as what drives the disruption of an industry or business. But that’s not true in most cases. Instead, startups disrupt established companies by decoupling the customer value chain — picking one aspect of the business and doing it better than the incumbent.”

When you get down to the root of it, it’s customers that drive change and create opportunities to innovate; and if your innovations or tech fixes don’t come from the client-centric model, your putting a fancy band-aid on a hemorrhaging flesh wound. Efficiency is nice, and we aren’t saying that you shouldn’t strive to work smarter and not harder, but if you don’t weave those efficiencies into your tapestry of client experience, when they step back to look at the finished work  it will be an uninspiring piece that doesn’t differentiate you from the same service they could have received anywhere else.

Most business owners want it to be easier for them – which is good, it should be easy to get with – but most folks are disillusioned with trying to fix their businesses, indeed they are NOT embracing tech or change or anything because “What’s the ROI there?”

So in reality, failing to adapt your law firm to customer behaviors and expectations will be what disrupts your business model, and the whole enchilada is headed there. Who will make it in the future?  – lawyers seeking to find where they can drive value for clients within their processes. Understand yourself – Get the tech, then staff and measure appropriately.

Innovating and Working to Help Law Firms Be More Efficient, Productive, and Growth Driven.

Patrick Vernallis is Product Manager at Bill4Time – the go-to-choice for lawyers looking for an affordable, efficient, and easy-to-use legal practice management software. Patrick got his BA from St. Lawrence University, worked in the Pennsylvania court system as a docket assistant clerk and audio technologist, and now he brings his special suite of skills to the LAWsome podcast to talk about managing law firms and Bill4Time


“What gets measured gets managed.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Patrick about setting goals, measuring results and how you can use tech to get a handle on both of them: 

Patrick: I think one of the coolest features that we worked on this year was our performance targets. Now, backing up a little bit. When planning our dashboard, we were thinking about the personas and the types of users who would use the dashboard, whether organizationally, tactically, what have you. And every persona that we came up with has a competitive value to them. So, with these performance targets, we looked at billable and resource utilization rates across attorneys and determined that attorneys are competing with each other in the courtroom, maybe with each other within their firm and most definitely with themselves, making sure that they’re beating their goals that they’ve set.

So, we created this performance targets feature where a user can set how many hours they expect to work each month, both as a resource for their firm and then straight billable hours. And they can track that in real time on their dashboard as they get closer and closer to surpassing their goal. And this feature has been out for about two or three months now. And in the tracking that we have, we’ve seen that users who adopt this feature bill more hours the next month. I mean, that just is your bottom line growing.

You know, if you’re setting a goal, “I’m gonna bill this many hours,” and then you do it, and the next month, you set a higher goal, this is Bill4Time encouraging you to bill more hours and to make more money in a way that the user is not even aware necessarily that they’re competing with themselves, they’re just trying to meet their goals. But at the end of the day, they’re making more money and this is the kind of feature we want to give our users.

Jake: And it’s weird because you wouldn’t know if you were making more money if you didn’t know where you were. Like, you need to know these things. But I’m still wondering – because this sounds amazing that you have all these things – but are there are still people who have Bill4Time that are like, “It just didn’t help me. I just didn’t know, just feels too much.”

Or they don’t know how to apply the dashboard to the sensibility of the revenue generation of growing a business. Maybe they’re just… I mean, do you think people will adopt this because they like technology or is it because you know you need to grow your business? I think there’s something that is hidden in all of those metrics where you’re like, “If you get into this, you can measure yourself and then you can grow and expand because you’re measuring things.” But if you’re not measuring things, if you’re not even thinking like that, no dashboard could help you. Because some people are like, “This tech stuff just doesn’t work.” We hear it all the time. “Marketing and advertising, it just doesn’t work.” And you’re like, “Mmh, is that true?”

Patrick: Yeah. Well, I mean, as you know how the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” And another one of our core competencies in Bill4Time is really strong, strong reporting features. And so we wanted to bring that analytics from kind of like, boring-looking Excel table style reports to a beautiful visualized dashboard. And when we kicked off this dashboard project, we did have a legacy dashboard from before, that was admittedly a little beige, a little dated. And so we didn’t just bring forward the design, but we actually brought forward all of the existing analytics and data entry tools that we had before. So, for a lot of our users, visually, it’s been an adjustment, but the same functionality that they’ve already become accustomed to is available in this new version. And so, once they can adjust to the new style, they can then grow into this dashboard and build out. You know, if they’re a manager, maybe monitoring fits the different teams that they have. Or if they’re an accounting persona type user, build out collections and realization tables right on their dashboard, they can see the information in real time without having to generate a clunky report.

So, it is something that we expect users to adopt over time. You know, I don’t think anybody is setting a performance target for themselves on the first day they sign up for Bill4Time, but once they get comfortable with the system, they can really maximize the effectiveness of the tools that we’ve got. And it really circles back to what I said before. Our customer support team is half the product and we can train you up on how to use these users, how to make the most of the system, quick tips, tricks, and things that ultimately help you save money. So, with the strong relationships our agents have with the customers who’ve come to us, you know, it’s something that starts with the foundation of our core competencies, timekeeping, reporting, but builds. And that human touch gives our customers a way to trust that what we’re giving them is gonna help them grow and practice better, ultimately.

Get More Information About Time Tracking, Practice Management and Bill4Time

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about setting goals, measuring your results, improving your law firm’s income with Bill4Time and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—