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Task Billing

We receive quite a few calls regarding how Legalmaster addresses the demands placed upon you by your clients, primarily insurance companies, for task billing. As many of you are already no doubt aware, task billing has many different definitions.

Some firms consider task billing to be no more than the ability to produce a printed bill with the fee transactions sorted and subtotaled by type of activity. This requirement is easily handled by Legalmaster's grouping codes. Assign to each transaction a grouping code which indicates to which phase or task the transaction belongs and sort the fees on your bill by grouping code. Legalmaster automatically prints a caption and a subtotal for each phase. You'll find a sample of such a bill at the end of this page.

Some of our clients are being asked to supply a task code to each time entry. We have discovered at least two issues regarding these codes.

First, the coding systems are not consistent. Some insurance companies are asking for the so-called ABA codes. We say, "so-called" because there are more than one set of codes that have been given this misleading designation. There is another code set, similar to the ABA sets, called the UTBMS (Uniform Task Based Management System). The UTBMS also takes more than one form. Both of these systems typically consist of a 4 character task code; some of them add a 4 character activity code. Some combine the information contained in the task and activity codes into a single (4 character) code.

The particular coding system called for seems to be a function of the insurance company and the auditor to whom the bills are often sent. The auditors, companies such as Examen, Tymetrix, Litigation Advisor, Allegient, Datacert, etc exert considerable control over the form in which the bills are to be provided and the conditions your billing information must meet in order for you to be paid. Click here to see the answer to the frequently asked question, "Can Legalmaster produce electronic bills?" and a list of some of the formats we currently support.

Second, the location and appearance of the code on the bill varies. Some companies want the code enclosed in brackets; while others call for slashes or some other delimiter. Some want to see the code at the beginning of each description; while others want it at the end. Some want it in a field separate entirely from the description.

Some of the auditors want the bills submitted in machine readable format, i.e., as a file or a set of files on a diskette. Under this circumstance, the file or files must be in a specific format so that it can be read by whatever software is running at their end.

So what do you do?

First, it is important for you to know that we have yet to see a file format required by an insurance company or an auditor that we are unable to produce. If a client is demanding bills in a particular format, be it printed or on diskette, ask them to provide you with a description of their requirements. If, as rarely happens, it turns out that Legalmaster cannot meet their needs with our off-the-shelf software, we will tell you what is involved to add whatever is necessary to satisfy them.

A few companies ask some of the law firms whose bills they audit to enter billing data using a particular piece of software, which they sell, while allowing other law firms to submit their bills in a simple ASCII format that we can create. Try to get them to let you to send them data in that ASCII format.

Many attorneys have been able to bypass the auditors entirely by negotiating directly with their insurance company client. One firm was allowed to bill directly, rather than through an auditor, by agreeing not to raise their billing rates by the $5 per hour that they had intended.

It is possible that we should be taking a different look at this whole issue. Why, after all, are the insurance companies putting you through this? There is no denying that much of this effort is in recompense for the abuses of a few over-zealous billers, but the insurance companies are also demonstrating a rational effort to control expenses by determining the cost associated with the pursuit of a case. Perhaps we should be doing the same thing. The sword cuts two ways; the effort required to satisfy the insurers provides you with the same information. Use it.

Please call us (speak to Phil) if you are feeling pressured to do something that you think is ultimately counter productive. We are building quite a library of information about this issue.

Click here for the answer to the frequently asked question, "Does Legalmaster address task billing?"

Here is a sample bill that sorts and subtotals time by task. This same example also reflects one of our split billing options.


 

Leiber, Church & Rubin, P.C.
1615 Broadway, fourteenth floor
Oakland, California 94612
our federal tax ID number: 94-2626448
our web site: legalmaster.com
 


March 13, 1997
 
Fireman's Fun Assurance Company
Jack Soul
3333 California Street
Claims Department
San Francisco CA 94111
 
Our file number: FF-THREE
Invoice number: 1382
 
Plaintiff's name: Diane Bijesse
Insured's name: Carol Ojeda-Caploe
Claim number: 100-X45-6500007-38NY009
Policy number: 33
Date of loss: 12/5/96
Adjuster's name: Jan King
Adjuster's shirt size: 15-33
 
____________________________________________________________
 


Atty Services Rendered Hours
 
Case Assessment, Development and Administration - L100
 
02/05/97 JSLR Meeting with self proclaimed expert,
Bawrence Lerman, in his San Quentin office 1.50 412.50
02/14/97 PHR Filing of documents 3.00 600.00
------- -------------
4.50 $1,012.50
------- -------------
 
Discovery - L300
 
02/12/97 JSLR Appear for no-show deposition of witness,
left after finishing every magazine in the
waiting room 4.50 1,237.50
02/21/97 JSLR Expert discovery of Bawrence Lerman, he
told us all he knew 0.20 55.00
------- -------------
4.70 $1,292.50
------- -------------
 
Trial Preparation and Trial - L400
 
02/11/97 LL Conference with opposing attorney
regarding scheduling of next conference
with opposing attorney 2.50 312.50
02/18/97 PHR Scheduling of trial setting conference 0.30 60.00
02/21/97 LL Trial setting conference 0.40 50.00
------- -------------
3.20 $422.50
------- -------------
------- -------------
Total shared fees 12.40 $2,727.50
Your share of the fees at 50% $1,363.75
------- -------------
 


 
 

Leiber, Church & Rubin, P.C. Page 2
 



March 13, 1997
 
Fireman's Fun Assurance Company
 
Our file number: FF-THREE
Invoice number: 1382
 
Plaintiff's name: Diane Bijesse
 

Summary Hours Rate
 
Jacob S. Rubin 6.20 275.00 1,705.00
Phillip Rubin 3.30 200.00 660.00
Laurie Leiber 2.90 125.00 362.50
 


Costs advanced
 
02/21/97 Filing fee 125.00
02/24/97 Photocopies 27.50
02/26/97 Fee for expert witness, Bawrence Lerman. He was worth at
least twice this charge. 2.50
-------------
Total shared costs $155.00
Your share of the costs at 50% $77.50
-------------
Total fees and costs through 02/28/97 $1,441.25
-------------
 

Balance from last bill: $1,375.00
This is how much you owe us $2,816.25
=============
 
30 Days $0.00
60 Days $1,375.00
 

Life of matter
 
Billed for fees 2,738.75
Billed for costs 77.50
------------
Billed for fees and costs 2,816.25
============
 
____________________________________________________________
 
This sample bill includes quite a few Legalmaster options.
Billing statements are available in thousands of formats.
 
1) Billings for the life of the matter appear summarized.
2) We organized (sorted and subtotaled) the fees by task.
3) We asked the prior balance to appear in aged buckets.
4) We skipped a line between each fee, but not for costs.
5) The percentage of the shared fees and costs which are
the responsibility of this client print with the totals.
6) We included a totals section for the attorneys' fees.