Overwhelmed lawyers in Africa, often working with a lack of administrative support and poor habits at managing daily admin, are seeing their bottom lines impacted as they grapple with the changing and more mobile nature of work.
Raphael Segal, director of Legal Interact, the practice management software solution company in Johannesburg, says one of the biggest frustrations he hears from lawyers is that they are losing revenue as they battle to keep track of how they spend their time.
Segal explained that the way we work today means everyone is “thin slicing” - this is when we are in a continuous state of working in an “interrupted way” often resulting in the failure to record phone calls, messages and travel. This is exacerbated when a lawyer is out of the office where, often, his professional time goes unaccounted for when it should be billed.
“In response to this problem we have developed a mobile phone app (Fee-Trac) for lawyers to enable them to account for all their time. It is a digital tool specifically designed to assist the legal profession to unlock value in their time.”
When developing Fee-Trac, Segal explained that the Legal Interact team realised it was important to create an application that was able to centralise and consolidate all a lawyer’s activities by automatically synchronizing the information with the native applications on their mobile devices.
“Fee-Trac is a smart application and uses the same principle as the health applications that tell you to take 10,000 steps,” says Segal. “It knows you have eight hours in a day and tries to help reconcile where and what you have spent your time doing.”
“Fee-Trac will present you with a consolidated list of all your activities in one screen so that you can identify what to bill, if you do this daily then, what is usually a month-end billing nightmare, becomes a walk in the park,” said Segal.
Several South African lawyers are currently trialing the app. “One junior lawyer, who is really using it very diligently, said his senior was poor at capturing leaked time and he had found himself slipping into the same bad habit. Now he reviews his activity in Fee-Trac at the end of the day to mark what is billable and, as a result, he has increased his monthly billing for the firm by tens of thousands of Rands.”
“What we have to accept is that the old ways of running a legal practice from an office, with a secretary keeping track of everything and then doing the accounts at the end of the month, are a thing of the past. What this means is that if lawyers can’t keep track of their time they are going to lose revenue,” he said.
“It’s those calls made in the car between appointments, or the meetings in the coffee shop that are being forgotten. A lawyer might have good intentions about coming back to the office to update everything but, in a busy life, relying on memory – especially with billing – is very unreliable.”
Fee-Trac also “knows and understands” the lives of its customers and “nudges” users to update and sync their diaries and other information so it can capture what it needs.
And, back at the office, the app can be synced with the in-office practice management system so that everything captured by Fee-Trac is also available on the desktop.
Says Segal, "With more lawyers working remotely and uploading to the cloud, having tech that works seamlessly with all your systems is essential. This app will remotely sync with a central practice management system so everything captured by Fee-Trac is also available on your additional technology such as laptops, desktops or tablets."
To find out more about Fee Trac click here or to contact the team click here
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