The New Legal Billing Template for EccoPro
Until the past decade, law firm billing was relatively straightforward. Firms billed their clients in greater or lesser detail, typically providing in-depth narrative descriptions of the tasks and processes underlying their hourly charges. In issuing bills and providing the underlying detail, each firm followed its own approach.
In recent years, however, clients have become more focused in requesting additional billing information of their outside law firms, or asking that billing data be presented in specific formats. In some instances companies have wanted to analyze their costs along various dimensions to provide benchmarks for the more systematic evaluation of legal costs. In others, there has been a desire to develop a database of costs on discrete legal activities.
Most of these efforts have been part of an overriding effort to manage corporate legal expenses more effectively by considering inside/outside mix, comparative performance by attorneys and firms of discrete activities, and other aspects of cost.
There are significant benefits to both law firms and law departments in terms of administrative simplicity and cost reduction to be gained from standardization. In addition, the development of standard billing categories will permit introduction of billing based on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). This technology is already widely employed in other areas of commercial activity. By linking the suppliers and consumers of legal services, EDI offers the prospect of "paperless billing" and a new level of administrative and cost efficiency.
The need, therefore, is for a uniform set of billing and task categories - detailed describers of activities and expense codes that would be acceptable to both law departments and firms, and that could prevail across American industry, financial services, and commerce. Analogous to the role of standards in other industries and functions, standard billing categories would make it possible for law firms to standardize their billing systems and for corporate law departments to work with their law firms in a far more efficient manner than prevails today.
How to copy the new Legal Columns with the American Bar Associations Billing Codes to an existing Time Billing File:
- Open the "Legal_wCodes.ect" file in EccoProX (only the Ecco Extension will make it possible to copy the columns!)
- Go to the "Active Cases" tab and right-click on the sample entry of the Acme Pencil Co. "acmepen.001" which should have some sample column values filled in.
- If you are using Eccoext or EccoProX, there are two commands – Extend Copy | With Folder Value and Extend Paste | With Folder Value available in the context menu (right mouse click).
- Use Extend Copy | With Folder Value to copy the sample line with values of "acmepen.001".
- Open your present "Time Billing" Ecco file and the related Notepad and right-click a sample notepad entry or empty line and click -> Extend Paste -> With Folder Value.
- Open the Folder View -> View -> Folder Window. This will create 6 new columns/folders Category, Billing File #, Time involved, Activity, Service provided and Expense Code.
- Click on and move the new Columns/Folder to add them to your existing columns.
- If you wish, delete any related existing columns without proper codes like Expense Type or Billable Hours.