A critical skill of law practice is keeping accurate, detailed and contemporaneous time records. The importance of accurate timekeeping is obvious when clients pay a fee based on a hourly rate. If lawyers bill clients based on reconstructed rather than contemporaneous time records, they may defraud their clients by overbilling and subject themselves to discipline including disbarment. (See In the Matter of Denise L. Majette.) However, recording activity either in a paper file or electronic case management system also serves many other important functions:
-- when all lawyers working on a matter record activity properly, review of the activity record assures that each lawyer knows exactly and completely what has been done on the file to date, preventing errors and duplicated effort
-- those with supervisory responsibility for the matter rely on the activity record both to make sure the client is being well represented and to evaluate the lawyer's work
-- the activity record serves as a comprehensive index to all the information contained in the file, since each item of information is associated with time records relating to obtaining and processing that information
-- sending time records on a regular basis to clients (which many attorneys do even if not billing on a hourly basis) is an efficient and effective way of informing the clients of the work being done for them and the progress of their case (see Drafting Bills Clients Love to Pay)
-- the activity record is essential if the lawyer ever files a motion for attorney fees (e.g. discovery sanctions, statutory fees, recovery of fees in contract actions) or if the client ever questions the reasonableness of fee (see Galvez v Cuevas.)
-- the activity record enables lawyers who subsequently represent the client (e.g. on appeal, or if the client changes firms) to know exactly what work has been done
-- a good activity record is frequently the best defense in a malpractice or attorney discipline proceeding
Therefore, an important learning outcome for this course is to develop your understanding of how competent lawyers record activity and develop the surprisingly difficult skill of doing so with accuracy and completeness. You will practice this skill during the first weeks of the semester by recording all the time spent preparing for class, as well as time spent in class, as if you were billing this time to a client. Just as a good lawyer will not bill a client for 2 hours of "work on case" you will not record "2 hours preparing for class." Generally work on each reading or other assignment should recorded separately, though, as in real practice, you can use your judgment about how best to record work on multiple tasks that is completed within a short period of time, keeping in mind all the purposes of timekeeping listed above. You will then apply this skill to recording your fieldwork related activity and the instructors will rely on this record to monitor the progress of your fieldwork. Finally, you will record activity in the acid test of your domestic violence case, where the welfare (even possibly the life) of your client will depend on everyone recording activity in Clio in real-time or close to it so that students and supervising lawyers can work together effectively to represent the client competently.
Absent unusual circumstances, like real lawyers you must record your classwork and fieldwork time either contemporaneously or at least on the same day. (Your domestic violence casework activity MUST always be recorded before day's end and preferably in real-time.) Although you can keep a written contemporaneous time record and transfer that information to Clio within a day or two, you will more realistically learn the skill of recording if you keep all your original activity records on-line in Clio. If you do record time in Clio after the date of your work, make sure that you re-set the date of the activity in the Clio dialogue box to reflect the date of the work rather than the default date of the day you record the time and make an entry under the Notes tab explaining why you did not record on the same day as the activity. (The Clio software records the date and time each entry is made so that the instructors can determine if you have not made an entry on the same day of the activity.) If you have a smart phone, you can use the Clio app for your phone to record time even if you do not have access to an internet-connected computer. You can also download Clio Express to your computer to record time when you are not logged into Clio.
Although the "stop watch" function in Clio allows you to record in one minute increments, it is not necessary that you do so. You should, however, record your time in 1/10 hour units so that 0.1=6 minutes (not one minute). 15 minutes can be recorded as 0.25.
Under "Description" for Time Entries in Clio
Use Class-Attend to record time actually in class
Use Class-Assignment to record time spent on assignments. If you work on multiple assignments on the same day, make sure you make different entries for each assignment.
Use Class-Reading to record time reviewing assigned readings. Generlally make separate entries for each reading and specify the name of that reading in your entry.
Use Clio-Entry to record time spent entering your time on Clio, using the calendar, or other Clio functions.
Make sure you always associate a time entry to a Clio matter that contains your name. (If you associate a time entry to a matter such as All-Class, everyone in the course can see your time entry.)
Do not use your Class-Name matter to record time on your fieldwork or domestic violence case. Use your Field-Name matter to record all fieldwork. A matter will be created for your domestic violence case that will be share with your partner.
Our evaluation of your diligence, accuracy and skill in recording activity for classwork and fieldwork will be reflected in the portfolio component of your course grade and will also be a factor in your client representation grade. Under no circumstance should you falsify your time entries as to the date of the activity, the description of the activity, or the time expended. Falsification of time records (including “padded” reports of time expended) is viewed very seriously by bar disciplinary authorities (and of course by employers and clients). Likewise, submitting time records for this course that are false in any respect can be the basis for
Thus, for example, if on an occasion you have not done one or more assigned readings for a class, do not report that you have done so. (An explanation for incomplete class preparation is welcome but not required. We were once law students ourselves -- easier to believe for Professors Roberts and Gaffney than for Professor Cunningham!)