3E Electronic Billing (eBilling) Overview

eBilling is the process of submitting invoices to clients electronically. In many cases this can involve a third-party vendor. Use of third-party vendors has become a predominant practice for monitoring, reviewing, analyzing and reporting electronic legal billing data. The LEDES website lists several commonly known vendors (https://ledes.org). Many law firms are familiar with vendor names like eBilling Hub, Data Fusion, Serengeti Tracker and others.

By definition, the user sends e-bills electronically. Today’s options include e-mail, embedded e-mail, FTP (file transfer protocol), and uploading directly onto the client’s or vendor’s website. When the user generates their e-bills, a text file becomes available on the application server to transmit to an electronic billing vendor. The eBilling text file can be translated into a variety of formats. However, most firms use a variation of the standard formats set by the LEDES organization.

Standard Formats (Templates) for Electronic Bills

The LEDES® (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard) Oversight Committee (“LOC”) is an international, voluntary, not-for-profit organization comprised of legal industry representatives whose primary mission is to create and maintain open standard formats for the electronic exchange of billing and other information between corporations and law firms. Many of the popular electronic formats are based on the standard electronic billing formats developed by LEDES. The LOC is fully committed to moving electronic billing forward and has updated the XML format to include additional enhancements to fully support the global rollout of electronically generated tax- and eInvoicing-compliant invoices in the legal profession. To this end, the LOC enhanced the XML 2.0 format, released as XML 2.1 in 2008.

·       LEDES 98B was introduced in January 1999, offering two standard formats. The pipe-delimited ASCII version became the most widely used ebilling format. Design objectives include increased data value, regional compliance, and full multi-currency and tax capabilities. The other, ASC X12, is an EDI version that the legal industry has not used because of its syntactic complexity.

·       LEDES 98B International, an ASCII version was introduced in 2005 as a promising international standard.

·       LEDES 2000, released in April 2000, is a more comprehensive XML based version that incorporates elements such as fee and cost taxes, fee and cost discounts, fee sharing, multiple payers, joint bills, multiple currencies, and different billing methods, e.g., contingency and flat fee billing arrangements. The LEDES 2000 format had minor corrections made in 2004 and 2005.

More Standard Electronic Formats

·       LEDES XML, “a major improvement" over the LEDES 2000. This format was revised substantially in 2006 with the ratification of the LEDES XML Ebilling Ver. 2. This format more fully accommodates the complex nature of fee arrangements between corporations and law firms.

o      XML E-Billing version 2

o      XML E-Billing version 2.1

o      XML E-Billing version 2.1 XSD

o      LEDES XML Budget Format v1.1

o      Timekeeper Attribute Standard

o      Timekeeper Sample File

For more information, see the LEDES site for sample downloads: https://ledes.org.

Some Basic Benefits for eBilling

·       Address client requirements for electronic bills

·       Record/Capture more accurate and detailed time entries (capture more billable time)

·       More consistent and automated invoice review and payment process

·       Use e-billing information to provide better and richer management information

·       Financial and environmental savings associated with non-paper bills