Take the Time Recording Challenge

You can’t bill what you don’t record! Most firms recognise that the largest source of leakage of chargeable time is the time that should have been recorded but wasn’t.

Take this test to see what you would record. The answers aren’t straightforward. Discuss your answers with your colleagues. Agree a policy. I’ve tried this test with firms and it has helped.

I have some suggested answers. If you email me and provide your email address, I’ll send them to you. No it’s your turn…..

1          You spend an hour with a partner putting together a quote for a matter.

Do you:

(a)          Each record one hour chargeable time

(b)          Record no chargeable time yourself but let the partner record one hour chargeable time

(c)          Neither of you record the time as chargeable

(d)          None of the above

2          The first meeting on the matter is at the client’s offices.  You travel there directly from home.  This takes you 30 minutes longer than your usual journey to work.

Do you:

(a)          Not record anything

(b)          Record the full time of your journey chargeable time

(c)          Record the 30 minutes extra chargeable time

(d)          None of the above

3          You spend 10 minutes briefing a junior lawyer about some research you want her to do.  She spends 3 hours doing the research and does not find an answer to the point.  You do 30 minutes of research yourself and find the answer.  You then spend 20 minutes with the junior lawyer talking about the answer and giving some general advice about how to research effectively.

Do you:

(a)          Record 30 minutes chargeable time

(b)          Record 40 minutes chargeable time

(c)          Record 1 hour chargeable time

(d)          None of the above

4          At the end of the day, you tidy your office.  This takes 20 minutes of which 10 minutes is spent organising and filing papers relating to the matter.

Do you:

(a)          Record 10 minutes to the matter and 10 minutes as management time

(b)          Record 20 minutes as management time

(c)          Not record any time

(d)          None of the above

5          A week later, you meet the client for lunch.  The journey to and from the restaurant takes 30 minutes.  Lunch takes 60 minutes of which 20 minutes is spent talking about the matter, the remaining 40 exchanging general news about the client and the firm.

Do you:

(a)          Record 90 minutes chargeable time (and make sure client pays for the meal)

(b)          Record 50 minutes chargeable time and 40 minutes marketing time

(c)          Record 20 minutes chargeable time

(d)          None of the above

6          You attend a client meeting, in your offices, with the matter partner and an IP lawyer.  You do not participate in the meeting, which lasts for one hour.

Do you:

(a)          Do not record the meeting as chargeable (but put it under another category)

(b)          Record 60 minutes chargeable time

(c)          Do not record the time at all

(d)          None of the above

7          At a training meeting, a colleague talks about an issue that is directly relevant to the matter on which you are working.  Your colleague took two hours to research the issue.  The result is that you now only have to spend 15 minutes to research the issue, rather than 2 hours 15 minutes.

Do you:

(a)          Record 15 minutes chargeable time yourself and persuade your colleague to record 2 hours to the matter

(b)          Record 15 minutes plus the time spent in training as chargeable time

(c)          Record only 15 minutes chargeable time

(d)          None of the above

8          The junior lawyer working with you asks you how she is progressing on the matter.  You spend 30 minutes with her, giving general feedback on her performance, the majority of which relates to tasks she has performed on the matter.

Do you:

(a)          Record 30 minutes chargeable time to the matter

(b)          Record just under 30 minutes chargeable time to the matter

(c)          Record the time as management time

(d)          None of the above

9          The client calls you to provide some facts that will be included in a document you are drafting.  The telephone call lasts for 2 minutes.

Do you:

(a)          Not bother to record the time at all

(b)          Record 2 minutes chargeable time

(c)          Record the time as chargeable time and round up to the nearest time recording unit (e.g. 6 minutes)

(d)          None of the above

10        You complete the matter.  You and the matter partner have a lunch meeting with the client to discuss the firm’s performance.

Do you:

(a)          Record the meeting as chargeable time (and imatterly persuade the client to pay)

(b)          Record the meeting as investment time (i.e. marketing)

(c)          Do not record the meeting

(d)          None of the above

How did you get on? Some of them are quite tricky aren’t they? Suggested answers are available. Please forward your email address and I’ll send them.


  1. I’m grateful to Robert Mowbray of Taylor Mowbray LLP for designing the original version of this quiz and allowing me to use it. Please contact Robert at rmowbray@taylormowbray.com
  2. Readers interested in this issue and based in the US might be interested to contact Todd Gerstein. Todd co-founded Smart WebParts in 2008 with the vision to provide innovative solutions that increase profits for law firms, accounting firms and professional service organizations. Formerly, Todd was the Managing Consultant at Legaltec.com for 28 years where he helped AMLAW 100 & 200 firms implement financial, practice management and back office applications. He was the first Director of Finance at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York (in the early days of law firm management) and the Executive Director for Feldman, Waldman & Kline in San Francisco. Todd holds a B.A. from the Ohio State University in Computer Science and a M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Denver. Todd can be reached attgerstein@smartwebparts.com.


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