Lawyers and Timekeeping

Lawyers and Timekeeping

Lawyers and Timekeeping

Like traditional law schools, the California Desert Trial Academy’s (CDTA) curriculum is designed to teach students the substantive law of core subject areas. Unlike traditional law schools, CDTA emphasizes training and developing students to be capable and competent advocates in any courtroom. The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is a 21st Century law school that moves students toward a successful legal career on the first day of class. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career.

It is a simple notion that attorneys sell time. Some would respond that attorneys sell knowledge, experience, and expertise. Time tracks a lawyer’s customers or clients. Recording time and subsequently billing a client for this time are the two primary steps that generate the revenue that support a law practice.

It is a logical notion that those attorneys who (regardless of billing method) keep contemporaneous time records will make more money than attorneys who do not keep contemporaneous time records. One conclusion is that these lawyers make more money, not because they are billing every tenth of an hour possible, but because they use contemporaneous time records that:

  • Are more likely to be complete and accurate than time sheets completed at the end of the day or week;
  • Allow the lawyer to calculate the actual cost of time and minimize, if not avoid, unprofitable work;
  • Pinpoint inefficient use of time or lack of delegation of non-legal work; and
  • Make the lawyer aware of how much time must be spent in administrative, marketing, and other non-billable activities.


It should be no secret that it is irrelevant what type of fees a lawyer charges (hourly, fixed, contingent, or some variable), as long as some timekeeping system is implemented. A good habit to learn is entering the time for each task performed during the day regardless of whether it is billable or non-billable time. There are low-cost manual and computerized systems available for this purpose.

There is also a standard task coding system, the Uniform Task Based Management System (UTBMS), co-developed by the American Bar Association and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 1995 as a means to standardize billing practices by America’s top law firms. This method of work product classification provides unique billing codes and matching descriptions intended for use with detailed client billings.

The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) helps students assimilate to the practice of law better than most traditional law schools. We’re on the cutting edge of modern, progressive 21st Century legal education. The CDTA has implemented new, innovative ways of teaching students how to be attorney-advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.


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