What if law firms create for each invoice a coversheet, one with little bubbles filled in that give a summary, much as tests or SATS that are scored electronically from answer sheets? All of the factual information about an invoice could be electronically coded and read by an OCR device; these facts would include dates, hours, billing rates, initials of timekeepers, and UTBMS task codes.
This idea sounds like electronic billing which uses LEDES (See my post of April 14, 2005 on this standard in Europe and Sept. 18, 2006 about electronic legal invoice delivery.), but would not require special file structures, encrypted communications, and third-party fees.
What couldn’t be scored so easily from bubbles filled in are descriptions of activities. Perhaps there is a way to encode text so that it is as easily machine readable. Our Post Office can do this.