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Estimating Time Realistically is Essential
July 2, 2012 Law Practice Management

In order to meet your promises, you need to be able to accurately or realistically estimate how long it’s going to take for you to do what you promise. Your clients depend on your estimates to help reduce their stress.

Estimating time well is important because it helps lawyers:

  •  Give clients a realistic idea of what their services are going to cost.
  • Meet their promises to clients and others.
  • Reduce their stress and overwhelm by not over extending themselves.

Tips For Lawyers on how to estimate time:

Start by using a project list that shows all components, documents, meetings, and tasks to complete the promised project. Use past invoices from similar matters to help create the project list for the new project. Even though your time is on the invoice evaluate and estimate the time for each aspect of the project based on what you know about your client and the other players in the new project. Then add all the times together to get your total estimate to complete the project.

Then consider doubling your overall time estimate to take into account the unknowns and reduce the stress of meeting your commitments if in the end you under budgeted. It’s usually best to overestimate rather than underestimate your time for the purpose of meeting client promises.

  • Use check lists (or invoices) from previous matters to create your project list to make sure you include all components in making your estimate.
  • Your project list should include the types and frequency of client meetings, anticipated negotiations, and the number of revisions you typically make to documents.
  • Pay attention to how long it really takes for you to do things.  Use your invoices to learn how much time you take to do a task so that you can be a better judge the next time.

If you would like coaching on to get better at estimating your time in your law practice, please contact me , Irene Leonard, Business Lawyer Coach to see how I can assist you.

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