Using AI to solve UTBMS issues in law firms and corporate legal departments
What is Legal e-Billing and the UTBMS?
Before looking at UTBMS issues affecting law firms and in-house departments, we first need to distinguish between ‘full’ e-Billing compared to the uploading of a copy of a paper bill or the keying of invoice details to a client or third party web site. Full e-Billing involves the production of an electronic file, usually in one of the LEDES formats (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standards), which contains not just the invoice header, matter information and bill totals but a detailed breakdown of timelines and expenses. This detail is coded using the Uniform Task-Based Management System (UTBMS), also known as ABA task codes, which is comprised of sets of codes that help breakdown legal work and expenses across a timeline of activity to a fine level of detail. The codes were designed to provide clients and law firms with a common method for identifying the work breakdown and cost information of legal services.
There are legal task code sets for different types of legal work (e.g Litigation, Bankruptcy, Trademark, Project/Transactional and Counselling) and a set of activity codes to categorise “how” the work on the matter is being done. For every matter, the in-house client receives an itemised bill with full transparency of the outside counsel fee earners who worked on the account, what tasks (e.g.