Humans can do it only laboriously, but the sleuths in e-billing software can easily spot where a law firm lawyer has billed unreasonably high hours during the same day across multiple matters. If four in-house counsel each review the same month’s bills from four different matters handled by the same firm, the lawyers won’t be able to spot that on a single day Attorney A billed six hours on each of the four matters. Not to worry, however, because e-billing software can report such an egregious abuse.
Generally, such exaggerated billings result from formula billing – every letter is a minimum of one hour, or some such standard. Law departments should not permit formula billing unless they have negotiated a fixed-fee arrangement, which, ironically, is formula billing writ large (See my post of May 24, 2006 on unit billing.).