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E-billing software that detects “block billing,” and some head scratching by me

In Peer to Peer, an ILTA publication at 76, an article by Scott Wirtz mentions that “Sophisticated audit techniques can now detect a narrative that contains what is referred to as ‘block billing.” Block billing is one term to describe time records that jumble together activities under a total amount of hours (See my post of Feb. 23, 2008: different interpretations of block billing; and Sept. 18, 2006: some rules e-billing can enforce.). Those who review bills can’t penetrate a block and evaluate the time spent.

All sensible so far. But the example given is a time entry that contains “review” and “revise,” which the article says “must be shown as two separate time entries.”

That doesn’t make sense. For one reason, timekeepers will simply avoid multiple verbs: instead of “think about and write blog posts” they will put down “write blog post.” More fundamentally, what are the rules and algorithms that point the software to spot block billing? Not everyone puts in semicolons between activities: “think about blog; write post.” The sophistication of software that can deal with the complexities of language, and even worse sometimes of shorthand language, likely exceeds the economics and abilities of legal e-billing vendors.

But probably this blockhead hasn’t thought clearly and written accurately.