The LEDES Oversight Committee has formed a development subcommittee to consider UTBMS codes for Mergers & Acquisitions transactions. Go to LEDES,org for more information on how to volunteer for this important initiative.
Sky Analytics Acquired
It was announced today that Sky Analytics has been acquired by Huron Consulting Group. Sky’s business analytics platform is added to Huron’s legal products and services portfolio that includes eDiscovery and contract management solutions.
This is a very good move for Sky. By remaining product agnostic, the acquisition keeps open a much larger potential marketplace than if Sky had gone to one of the matter management/ebilling solution vendors.
See You At Legal Tech!
GLE founder Jane Bennitt will attend Legal Tech in February.
On Tuesday 3 Feb Jane will speak at an ILTA-track session with current LEDES Oversight Committee President Cathi Collins. The session will be an open forum where the audience is encouraged to speak about what is right or wrong with ebilling today. Our intent is to frankly discuss ebilling, see if there are projects that should be undertaken by the LOC, and to set priorities. The session will be held at 12:30 in the Mercury Ballroom.
The LOC annual members meeting is on Wednesday 4 Feb and is open to the general public, not just LOC members.
Other than these commitments, we are setting up meetings during the show. As a rule, Legal Tech meetings are free, so take advantage of this opportunity to talk with GLE about your issues, concerns and needs. See you there!
Seasons Greetings 2014
Twenty Years In – Reflections on Ebilling
My 20th anniversary in ebilling has come and gone and I think it worthwhile to reflect back on the industry.
In 1994 law firms didn’t use Windows. Heck, some legal finance people didn’t use a mouse until after 2000! TyMetrix’s founder believed there had to be a way for law departments to understand their legal spend. We worked on the prototype system and held back until the ABA/ACCA UTBMS Codes were released. We installed the system at the first 13 firms before the end of 1995. I spent most of 1996 on the road and by May more than 220 firms had been on-boarded. We quickly learned that law firms would not provide electronic billing data unless it was tied to payment of their invoices so, after some redesign, we began receiving invoices in August of 1996 electronically using the model still used today for ebilling.
Once the LEDES 98B format was released, it was amazing to see so many new system offerings. We were the only company operating with a business model that required professionals from within the client company to review invoices. And how fortunate for us. As State Bar Associations issued ethics opinions about breach of confidentiality when invoices are released to third parties for review (intended to crush legal ebilling altogether), our business model ensured no breach of confidentiality would occur.
On the client side, streamlining the receipt, review and payment of invoices within the system made for a much more efficient process. While some matter information was necessary to administer ebilling, by adding more fulsome matter management functionality there would be far greater ability to manipulate the paid billing data, especially if we included information on how a matter was resolved. System functionality absolutely exploded with the addition of budgeting, case planning, timekeeper and rate management, scorecarding, accruals, global features, etc. It was dizzying expanding in so many directions in so short a period.
I can wax nostalgic about this period because there were many visionaries working on solutions. Really, there were a lot of smart people involved. Many of the ebilling third-party vendor solutions have been sold, and the new owners focus on retaining clients and increasing market-share. Today I see many caretakers, not innovators. Except for adding BI and cross-industry metrics, not much has changed with these systems in the past decade. And much of the functionality provided for law firms is shameful.
In the past few years there have been a couple new takes on ebilling: project management with ebilling features (like OnIt or AlignMatters), or Viewabill’s real-time connection to WIP. But mainstream legal ebilling exists much the same as it did in 2000.
It’s time to throw out the ebilling playbook and reenvision the industry. If this is on your roadmap, I would be thrilled to help.
New LEDES Web Sites
Fun With eBillingHub
I got together with the folks at eBillingHub last weekend to attend the Pittsburg Vintage Grand Prix. What a blast! eBH is a sponsor and had a tent right at the finish line. Great food, great friends, great fun. If you ever get invited be sure to go.
Did You See It? Wow!
I am so impressed by the information provided in Sky Analytics’ newly-released Gender Study. They evaluated $3.4 billion of ebills from 3,000 firms across the US and looked at gender as it impacts billing rates, law firm roles, work assignments, write-offs, etc. Instead of restating their findings, read the report yourself and you also will be wowed.
I for one am hoping to see more quality analytics like this available for public consumption. Hats off to Dr. Sylvia Hodges Silverstein and the rest of the team at Sky.
Notes from the Analytics Conference
Yesterday I attended the Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Legal Profession conference sponsored by Ark Group by invitation from Chris Bullock at Sky Analytics. What a great conference! Here are some take-aways from the various speakers from an ebilling perspective.
- Law firms are employing BI with respect to profitability, leveraging and write-downs to better evaluate the “value” of client relationships and to better position themselves when negotiating alternate fees.
- During annual client meetings when past services are reviewed and future services are negotiated, it was recommended that firms bring their metrics. Many clients do not have this kind of information and appreciate anything firms can supply. It can also be helpful to refute any client metrics that portray the law firm in an unflattering light or to illustrate a problematic fee structure.
- There are new Legal Project Management (“LPM”) tools available that also manage legal fees. I wonder, will the predictability of the fee, alignment between time recorded and realization, and ease of bill submission in these LPM tools lead to the next generation of ebilling?
Some great quotes:
Chris Potter – “It used to be the sooner you broadcast bad news the better. Now we don’t want to broadcast bad news at all. We need tools to identify when a situation starts to go bad so we can deal with it before it escalates.”
Christopher Sweet – “Measure. Monitor. Manage. Then meet regularly.”
Chris Potter – “We need to deliver business intelligence that is digestible and actionable to inside counsel.”
More on the Datacert Acquisition by WK
It was reported today that TyMetrix and Datacert are merging. In the press release, Richard Flynn from Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services said, “We will continue to support and invest in the TyMetrix and Datacert product lines while offering the highest levels of service and support our clients have come to expect.” Elsewhere in the press release Jim Tallman, President of Datacert, references “this new combined business.” We can only wait to see what the future holds for these two products.