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Law firms discover the value of KM

As a result, the firm’s client spent five to 10 times less for the discovery process than it would have if the firm had done all the work itself—and had the manpower to do it, according to Ellwanger. The two parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Better time management, increased billings

Lawyers spend much of their time on the road, going back and forth to court, having outside meetings with clients, and commuting to and from work. While handheld devices have helped make the traveling and other time out of the office more productive, they don’t always capture billable time.

"I was really struggling with a way to record interactions with my clients in such a way that I would have a reference," says James E. Atkins, partner with Duffy & Atkins. "I would use Post-it notes, backs of receipts, random sheets of paper. I would have to try to keep all of this information until I got back to the office to record it."

And he knew that some calls weren’t recorded at all, and others were improperly recorded. Even what were expected to be short phone calls with clients often turned into long ones. "I was frustrated with the money I was leaving on the table," Atkins adds.

He started searching for a software solution to solve the challenge. The firm’s practice management system, Tabs3, was fine for billing in the office, but didn’t have a remote application, Atkins says.

He eventually found Airtime for Professionals (A4P), a software application from Airtime-Manager, which works on his BlackBerry to identify the client, any matters the client has open and the billing code. The application also records the time of the call (or e-mail communication).

A local programmer wrote an interface between the A4P software and Atkins’ back-office software, so that remote and in-office billings are all located in a single repository.

"It’s completely seamless," Atkins says. "I’ve never lost a speck of data."

Atkins estimates that the software has added 30 minutes a week to his billings, which at $350 an hour, is a significant sum on an annual basis.

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