The Key to Better Timekeeper Rate Reviews? Comprehensive Benchmark Data

Timekeeper rate approvals are a constant headache for legal operations departments. With departments dealing with several different firms at the same time, going through the timekeeper rate approval process will likely happen daily — and take up too much time and too many resources.

Does this timekeeper rate approval cycle seem familiar to your Legal ops department? An invoice comes into the department flagged at a brand-new timekeeper rate proposed by the law firm. This change could be from a new legal team member joining from outside counsel, a promotion (a 2nd-year to a 3rd-year associate, for example), or an annual rate increase.

From there come the questions: What is this timekeeper rate compared to others in the firm? How does this rate for timekeepers compare to similar firms that you do business with? How does this rate compare to the market? You need to uncover old data, consult secondary benchmark reports on the market, and reach out to colleagues at your company or your network to see if the new proposed rate makes sense.

Gathering the data you need for timekeeper rate approval analysis can take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and, unfortunately, can still be suspect (depending on the reliability of anecdotal network evidence and the quality of internal and external reports). And there is more work to do after data collection. The analysis to answer the “is this timekeeper rate appropriate?” question requires another few hours of time and brainpower dedicated to analyzing exhaustively collected, collated, and possibly paid-for timekeeper rate data that may or may not be completely accurate.

It all adds up to make the rate approval process for law firm timekeepers unreliable and exhausting (at best) for the legal ops department. In an era where Legal must take its rightful place as a material driver of the organization, the timekeeper rate approval process drains valuable resources and time away from projects that could grow the business.

Yet, keeping a watchful eye on timekeeper rates is integral for Legal. Simply okaying every rate approval can quickly cause expenses to spiral out of control in both the short and long term. Conversely, a long, drawn-out timekeeper rate approval process can slow the entire Legal department to a crawl.

However, there is a way out of this conundrum. Using AI-enabled technology at the point of decision allows for a better, more efficient, data-driven way to do timekeeper rate reviews.

Using Comprehensive Benchmark Data to Drive Timekeeper Rate Reviews

Onit’s new Spend Management + Bodhala Integration (available in July 2023) provides comprehensive benchmark data that unlocks efficient and accurate timekeeper rate reviews for legal operations teams. With the integration, Legal can make quick, accurate decisions on timekeeper rates without relying on expensive, out-of-date, time-consuming secondary rate analysis.

Onit users receive regularly updated and pre-analyzed timekeeper rate approval data (consisting of over 10,000 factors) on the same screen as their approval button. This allows for instant analysis and rate adjustment, approval, or rejection based on three powerful points of data comparison:

  • Information gathered within the specific firm
  • Information gathered across all the firms on your panel
  • Information gathered across the Bodhala industry database for that area of law — pulled from an immense repository encompassing over $47.6B in legal billings, over 200,000 timekeepers, and 8,900 law firms.

This suite of comprehensive benchmark data delivers a transformational moment for legal departments with their timekeeper rate reviews. The integration:

  • Enables a faster process, cutting down timekeeper rate approvals from the “hours to days” timeframe to one that takes “minutes to hours.” This allows higher-level legal ops professionals to shift their focus from analysis of timekeeper rates to projects that help Legal materially grow the organization and secure its rightful place as a revenue driver.
  • Empowers better, more confident rate approval decisions. With 10,000 data factors and keen insights from the industry and other firms, Legal can feel secure in their approval decisions, gain the metrics needed to back up rejections, and justify the department’s spend to the rest of the organization. That sense of security is enormously valuable.
  • Delivers better rates and savings across the organization both in the short-term and the long-term. Insights gained through the comprehensive benchmark data allow organizations to make better rate approval decisions, develop good timekeeper rate review habits, and see what spend is working (and what is not). Additionally, Legal can avoid spending extra funds on expensive secondary market rate benchmarking reports.

The benefits do not stop there. Insights gained through the Onit Spend Management + Bodhala integration helps power competitive analytics; it is easy for Legal to make firm-level comparisons (for example, on the average rate for timekeeper by level) and see if there are opportunities to renegotiate with firms or redistribute the work to other firms as needed. Onit’s “firm report cards” give a quick back-of-the baseball card look at each firm’s cost effectiveness, helping to make better directional decisions. After finalizing and renegotiating timekeeper rates, the integration can also drive better matter benchmarking throughout the organization.

Getting Started with Efficient Timekeeper Rate Reviews

In an environment where Legal must make every element of its processes as efficient as possible, optimizing timekeeper rate reviews is essential. The comprehensive benchmarking data delivered by Onit’s Spend Management + Bodhala integration provides the advanced edge Legal needs to work more efficiently, make more confident rate approval decisions, and deliver short- and long-term savings to the organization.

Interested in learning how Onit Spend Management can make the difference for your timekeeper rate reviews? Schedule a demo here.

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