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One use for the Uniform Task-Based Management System (UTBMS) – when contesting a bill

My view for several years has been that UTBMS codes in law-firm bills have rarely resulted in cost savings for law departments (See my posts of April 23, 2006 and Dec. 1, 2006 that criticize UTBMS efforts; and April 22, 2007 regarding updates to the system.). Either the law firms code sloppily or the law departments never collect the code data in a useful way or the law departments fail to analyze and act on the codes to make a difference in law-firm costs. All the efforts on either side go to naught.

At a recent talk, however, one participant described how his law department had challenged a bloated bill. The task-code information, according to him, was decisive in showing the inefficiency or inappropriateness of the law firm charges on that large bill or set of bills.

I grant that anecdote, but my retort would be that a law department has the right to challenge any bill that seems disproportionate to the effort expended by the law firm or the results obtained. No in-house lawyer needs to back up a challenge with task code specifics. Meanwhile, on most matters and bills, much low-value time is frittered away without any payoff.