Tell me about Task Billing.

Task billing is one of those things that doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Nonetheless there are basically two issues here.

  1. The appearance of the bill

  2. The ability to determine the profitability of a task

Generally, task billing refers to the capability to categorize your fees. These categories are sometimes called tasks or phases. Legalmaster allows you to categorize your time entries by use of our grouping codes. So the first step is to ensure that all entries that belong to the same task category are given the same grouping code. This may be done at the original time of entry or later. You may even use the Global Change facility to give many entries the same grouping code at once.

Grouping codes may affect bills in a few ways.

  1. You may sort your entries by group so that all entries belonging to the same group appear together on the bill. Within group, your entries may be sorted, among other ways, by date or timekeeper. This still permits you to itemize all of the entries within each group. Each group is provided with a caption and a subtotal. You may see a sample of a bill that combines the task billing feature and the split billing feature. Be sure to assign the grouping code statement function code N.

  2. You may have all entries assigned to the same group appear on the bill as a single item. Under this circumstance, its description may be determined in any of three ways.
    1. It may be "canned." Assign the grouping code statement function code C.
    2. It may be the description associated any one of the individual transactions that make up the group. In this case, assign the grouping code the statement function code M.
    3. It may be a stringing together of all of the descriptions associated with all of the transactions that share that grouping code. This one calls for statement function code S.

    Management Information

    The issue here comes down to your interest in charging your client a specific amount for a number of entries while still maintaining the ability to keep track of the actual amount of time and its actual value that you have invested in the task. Consider the following fairly sophisticated example.

    We have a estate planning client who has agreed to charge his client a fixed amount to prepare his will (let's say $1,000.00) while still charging hourly for all of the other tasks on the same matter. He wants the bill to show a single paragraph describing the work done on the will with the total amount of $1,000 next to it with no reference to hours. He wants all other entries itemized showing both hours and dollars. Here is what he does.

    1. Whoever works on the will enters his or her time in the normal manner, charging the hourly rate that is typically applied to this matter for all work. All that is necessary is that each of the entries that falls into the will group is given the same grouping code (let's say "wi").
    2. All other activity for this matter is entered in the normal way, either with no grouping code or with another grouping code for some other task.
    3. After all of the entries for the will are in Legalmaster, he goes to Transaction/Fees/List Alter and enters the client and matter identifying codes.
    4. He then clicks Options/automatically distribute write-ups and write-downs.
    5. He specifies the grouping code (wi) and, if necessary, the date range for the entries to be considered and clicks "continue."
    6. Legalmaster displays the actual value of the time spent on the task. He types 1000 in the amount to bill field and checks the box next to "Suppress hours."
    When the bill prints, the grouped entries appear as a single paragraph, the hours don't appear for that entry, but the $1,000 amount does. All other entries show both hours and amounts. The total hours at the bottom of the bill reflect only those entries that showed hours. He's happy.

    Insurance companies

    Some companies are demanding bills in data format on diskette or via e-mail. While MIRC for Transactions lets you create a file that may be read by a machine, most of these companies are demanding data in very specific formats, formats which vary from company to company. In addition, many of these companies are demanding that you assign a task code (and some times an activity code) to each of your time entries. Although these companies are using a number of different coding systems, they invariably call whatever they are using the ABA codes. Some of our clients have addressed this problem by assigning a user-defined Legalmaster grouping code to each time entry and making the description of the grouping code the insurance company's mandated code and then sending the grouping code description in the MIRC report.

    Click here if you want to read more about electronic billing.