Friday, July 25, 2014

Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES)

Proposed Knowledge Management UTBMS Code Set Public Comment Period

The LEDES Oversight Committee has reviewed a proposed Knowledge Management UTBMS Code set created by the Yerra Solutions Global KM Expert Group and provided to the LOC for endorsement. The public comment period for the proposed code set is now open. The proposed Code Set can be found here. Please use this survey to provide feedback to the LOC review team before the end of the day on 11 July, 2014.

Timekeeper Classification Revision Public Comment Period

The LEDES Oversight Committee has been considering revisions to the Timekeeper Classifications used in the LEDES standards. In discussing the revisions, the project team used the following assumptions:

  • brianTimekeeper classifications should be considered for all types of legal vendors who have been asked or may be asked to ebill;
  • Legal vendors have two types of employees that need to be tracked: those who bill their time to clients and those who access the ebilling system for administrative purposes but who may not bill time to client matters. The team felt that both types of employees should be represented within the revised timekeeper classifications;
  • It would be better to have more classifications and allow clients to select those that will be accepted. In this respect, clients should clearly state their intentions on the usage of the classifications. For example, although the client does not accept the Librarian classification, Librarian services are not allowed to be submitted with any other timekeeper classification;
  • A classification should be added if it provided insight into the timekeeper's billing rate or would provide additional insight for analysis purposes. For example, we kept both Legal Assistant and Paralegal, with Paralegal indicating someone having official certification or license issued by a jurisdictional authority, as the team would expect a Paralegal’s billing rate to be higher;
  • We considered types of positions seen within global law firms that may not be used within the US;
  • Junior and Senior distinctions, to the extent used, should be left to the discretion of the legal vendor instead of providing guidelines on what constitutes Junior or Senior. We felt the individual performing mapping would not likely refer to the documentation in this regard and usage would be inconsistent;
  • The new codes should clearly distinguish between regular and contract/temporary timekeepers but felt it was only important to distinguish between attorneys and non-attorneys as contract/temporary timekeepers;
  • The LEDES 98B documentation provides 10 characters for the timekeeper classification code. The proposed new classifications use a 5 digit code, within the limit originally specified;
  • The team provided information on the types of legal vendor that may use each code. This should be taken at face value and not manipulated by clients; and
  • The team provided expansive definitions on the usage of each timekeeper classification to standardize usage of the codes.

The proposed revisions can be found here. Please use this survey to provide feedback to the project team before the end of the day on 13 June, 2014.

The LEDES® (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard) Oversight Committee (“LOC”) is an international, voluntary, not-for-profit organization comprised of legal industry representatives and is charged with creating and maintaining open standard formats for the electronic exchange of billing and other information between corporations and law firms. The LOC is dedicated to using open standards which cater to no one organization or group of organizations to uniformly satisfy the complex needs of the legal industry based on 5 basic principles: keep it simple; make it unambiguous; diverge from existing formats as little as absolutely necessary; only ask for information the law firm is typically able to provide from their financial system; and meet the needs of corporations, law firms and legal industry software vendors to the maximum extent possible consistent with the first four criteria.

The initial goal was to create a standard for the electronic exchange of billing information. In 1995 Price Waterhouse, LLP convened a consortium of leading legal industry time and billing system and case management system vendors in order to define a standard electronic billing format for use by the legal industry. Two ebilling formats were developed:

  • The ASC X12 EDI standard (the national standard for EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), widely used in several industries). To our knowledge this format has never been used in the legal industry due largely to its enormous syntactic complexity. At least one custom format, however, was based on the ASC X12 format.
  • A delimited ASCII standard. This standard was used, in slightly modified form, by several organizations.

In 1998, using the framework established in 1995, PricewaterhouseCoopers updated the delimited ASCII standard and reconvened the legal industry consortium. With this the informal LEDES group was created and assumed control of the newly-named LEDES 1998 format.

In 1999, the LEDES 1998B format modified and wholly replaced the ASCII, pipe delimited LEDES 1998 format. Ledes 1998B quickly became the accepted standard for ebilling.

In 2000 another ebilling standard, this time in XML, was ratified by the LOC. The new LEDES 2000 format contained much more information than the original LEDES 1998B format, and more fully accommodated the complex nature of fee arrangements between corporations and law firms. The LEDES 2000 format had minor corrections made in 2004 and 2005, and the current document in place on this site contains those corrections. This format was revised substantially in 2006 with the ratification of the LEDES XML Ebilling Ver. 2 format. LEDES 2000 appears on this web site as a courtesy for those still using it.

Also in 2000 the informal LEDES consortium incorporated as a non-profit mutual benefit corporation.

In 2004 a UK-based group called LITIG (Legal IT Innovators Group) proposed an ebilling standard for the United Kingdom’s legal service industry based on the LEDES 1998B format. After several meetings and consultation with LITIG, the LOC approved a beta international version of the LEDES 1998B format in 2005. The beta format was revised in 2006 to include additional fields necessary for international ebilling to proceed until such time as the LEDES XML Ebilling Ver. 2 format becomes available to law firms. The update was ratified by the LOC membership as a (non-beta) standard in 2006 and appears on this web site in its modified form. It is not intended that the LEDES 1998B-International format will be modified in the future; any international submission issues will be considered through modification of the LEDES XML Ebilling Ver. 2 format only.

In 2006 the LOC membership ratified the LEDES XML Ebilling Ver. 2 format as an update to the LEDES 2000 format. The new format changes how the math is calculated on an invoice, includes the ability to itemize complex taxes, bill alternate fee arrangements, credits and debits on a matter, supports multiple vendor tax identification numbers, eliminates non-mainstream ebilling data elements, and creates consistence in the use of terminology, among other changes.

LEDES is now more than just an ebilling standard.

In 2006 a budgeting standard was approved by the LOC membership. The LEDES XML budget standard accommodates the submission and revision of varying types of legal budgets, such as timekeeper or task and activity based budgets across varying time frames and also matter staffing plans.

The UTBMS Task Force merged its efforts under the LOC umbrella in 2006. It is now a permanent LOC Subcommittee charged with considering issues on the UTBMS codes used in legal electronic billing.

In 2007 a standard for the exchange of timekeeper attribute information is being considered by the membership. This standard conveys information required internally by the corporate client and SEC information requirements placed on public companies in the US.