Tasks are the heart of Outlaw Practice: they work with every part of the system. As such, there is a lot of information stored within them. We will go over each of the fields, and their function.
Title is a required field, as it is used as a display label anywhere the task is show in the program. The title can be arbitrarily long, although it need not contain that much information, as there are plenty of other places in the Task to store information on what the task is for and how to do it. Try to keep the title short.
The start time is an option field that, when set, gives the task a firm start time. This is useful for scheduled calls, court times, or anything where the event is well defined in terms of start time. If the start time is set, then it will show up in the Task Calendar in a defined slot, based on the start time and estimated duration. Otherwise it will show up in the all-day section of the calendar for the given due date.
The start time need not be on the same day as the due date (see Due Date).
Due Date (required)
This is the date and optional time that the task is due. This can be a drop-dead date, such as a deadline for filing a motion. It could also be a goal date for a task without a hard deadline. Tasks on the calendar will use the due date to determine the date, unless a start date is set.
This is the amount of time you expect the task to take. While it is possible that you have no idea how long something will take, you should at least put a target amount of time that you are shooting for. Without an estimated time, you will not be able to estimate your workload.
Estimated time can be used to determine how well you estimate your time! As we track both estimated time and actual time, you can improve your estimation accuracy by comparing your guesses with reality. Learn more about the Estimation Accuracy Chart.
This field tracks who the task is assigned to. By default, all tasks you create will be assigned to you.
This field tracks who is involved in the task (other than the assigned person). For example, if this is a conference call with a judge, you would add the judge's name here.
This is a critical field, and the administrator may require that a selection be mandatory. The categories listed here are set up by the administrator, and reflect back on the key categories:
Bolded categories are global, non-bolded categories are personal categories, visible only the the logged-in user.
You may select multiple categories, but be aware that splitting a task between categories will result in the time for the task being sliced into equal portions when doing analytics or billing. For example, if you create a task that has both Administrative and Client categories checked (for example if you tried to combine a billable and non-billable client-related task into one), you would end up with 50% of the time being billable, and 50% of the time NOT being billable. So make sure that you only select one category unless there is a very good reason for selecting multiple.
Impact is the financial impact on your firm, positive or negative. For example, if this task is related to a high-value client that you absolutely must keep happy, it is likely that this would be HIGH impact. On the other hand, perhaps you do not have enough cases coming in, and you badly need to get some marketing going. In that case, even though the task is not client-related, the task would also have a HIGH impact.
Urgency is determined by how quickly this task must be completed. The sooner it must be done, the higher the urgency. By default, if the task is not due today, its urgency is probably not HIGH.
A quick note: just because something feels urgent, does not mean it is urgent. For example, if you get a scathing email from a client that clearly has no intention of paying you, that is not HIGH urgency.
Checking this field marks the task as private, meaning only you will be able to se it, and it will not show up in any analytics or billing sections. This is mainly useful for tasks related to a personal category.
This is the description that will go on the invoice (unless Exclude from Invoice is checked). This should be descriptive enough to explain the charge. For example, if this is a quick email of status to the client, then a description like "Send email to client apprising of status" is sufficient. However a task for 4 hours of document preparation should have significantly more detail! Remember that these entries should read like lines in a story, as that is how they will be read by the client when they receive your invoice.
It is common to have time entries that you will show on the invoice, but not charge to the customer. Some common examples of time that will not be charged include:
Call with a client to discuss their invoice
Call with a client to discuss their concerns about the way their case is being handled
Small tasks that took under a minute, but you bill by the 1/10th of an hour
Drafting of out-of-office/vacation letters
Tasks marked "No Charge" will show up on the client invoice, but will have the amount set to $0.
Exclude from Invoice
Some time spent on a client's case is not only not billable, but you do not want to show the entry to the client. Here are some common examples:
Discussions between firm members about the case (e.g. junior attorney asking a senior attorney how to do something they have not done before)
Fixing a mistake that you caused
Drafting a motion for withdrawal
Scheduling phone calls
Checking in with the client after a distressing event
Tasks marked "Exclude from Invoice" will not show up on the client invoice, and will not be used to calculate the billable amount.
This field shows the standard rate for labor on this case, along with an override checkbox that will enable you to override the labor rate for this one task.
This field shows the actual time required to finish the task, along with an override checkbox that will enable you to override the labor time spent on the task. Note that time added to the Travel Time field will be subtracted from this field.
This field shows the standard rate for travel on this case, which defaults to the standard rate for labor, along with an override checkbox that will enable you to override the travel rate for this one task.
This field shows the actual time spent traveling, if travel was required, along with an override checkbox that will enable you to override the travel time spent on the task. Note that time added to the Travel Time field will be subtracted from the Labor Time field.
Use this field only if you bill at a different rate for travel than you do for normal time, or if you have agreed not to charge your client for travel time (or have agreed to a limited time amount or fee).
This is the total cost of the task, as transmitted to the client via an invoice. You have the option to override the total amount by fiat here, although it is better practice to modify the amount using the other methods described above.
Available only for cases where a flat fee is used, a task can be assigned to one of the flat fee buckets for the case. If used, the total cost will be $0, as the flat fee is allocated only when the milestone(s) for the fee have been met (see section on flat fees and milestones).
Note that if a case is flat fee only, then the fields for Labor/Travel Rate/Time will not be shown, although the checkboxes for No Charge and Exclude from Invoice will be shown.