‘6 months without recording every 6 minutes of my day’: Tania Tandon


Since I started my career in 1998, a considerable focus of each working day has been capturing my time (6 minutes is one unit), recording and converting that time into units (converting the time to minutes and then dividing it by 6), finding the correct allocation (client or non-client) for those units; describing the activity correct for the time and then submitting it. No mention of this when we were learning about the great judiciary at university and law school. 

During my time in the profession, this form has progressed (marginally) from a paper time sheet to online systems. With online systems, I was unable to log out until I had recorded at least 7 hours of my day. Nothing else, however, has really changed. 

Time recording at law firms is a skill in itself and completely separate to any other skills relevant to being a legal advisor. There is therefore an entire time recording world of technologies, IT support, and training and development. Various methods are developed to encourage more time recording and good time sheet disciplines, ranging from statistics being available to all, public tellings off, and letters in brown envelopes from higher up the chain. I have attended several days of mandatory training on time recording over the years with the aim to become better at it. At the same time, training on my area of expertise has not been mandatory.  

This training taught me how to record more time than what was obvious and the confidence to record time I did not believe could be recorded. Every lawyer develops their own rules and those rules change depending on how much pressure they are under when it comes to recording time. Do two short one minute calls count as two units (12 minutes) or one unit (6 minutes); does the time spent catching up about holidays count (if not how is it recorded?); does a call followed by a review for the same matter count as two activities or one; can you record thinking time; walking to the copier time; fixing a mistake; explaining a matter to a colleague when you need to rush home? The scope for inconsistency is endless.  

Recording time often defines lawyers within firms. It is not unusual to talk about how much others are or aren’t recording, or hearing lawyers shout about how much they record. Some lawyers equate achievement with recorded hours. Lawyers like to achieve, so in times where there is less work, this can lead to real behavioural issues.  I even remember being at a hen weekend in a lovely and idyllic private garden in Holland Park and overhearing two lawyer friends competing about their annual chargeable hours, both being over 2000! 

Six months ago, however, my co-founder and I decided to leave all this behind and form a new law firm, while being the first to not record time. The news has been met with disbelief…how will that work? Surely you are noting your time somehow?  

No. We’re not.   

I can honestly say that sitting in front of a screen and working without little timers in front of me, picking up calls from clients without worrying about the allocation of the time, and being able to advise without the constraints of time recording has been incredible. We have found value in ourselves as lawyers, away from the number of hours we record a day, which feels much closer to the judiciary I learned about at the start.


Tania Tandon is an international employment law expert and co-founder of TandonHildebrand.  She can be reached on tania@tandonhildebrand.co or alternatively on +44(0) 7731 489 863. 


Related Articles: Professional Services: Building Work vs Legal Advice












TandonHildebrand - What's New
How will the changes to the GDPR system affect your business?