Law departments will find their bill review process easier to slog through if the bills they receive from outside counsel have a similar format. This does not mean that each bill in its entirety must mirror some standard format, but that useful information with a common definition is available in one place. For example, if the law department wants to know effective billing rates by levels, it should specify where to state those figures and how to calculate them. A coversheet on the invoice prepared by the firm’s time and billing system might suffice for providing the requisite data in the right place.
An additional benefit from standardized data is that the law department can more readily compare performances across law firms. Eventually, it will be possible to use OCR devices to input the key data (See my post Sept. 22, 2006 for more ideas on this future.).