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Strong proponents at GE of task-based billing, but my doubts remain

Bob Haig’s Successful Partnering series has an extensively updated chapter 14 on billing written by General Electric’s Brackett Denniston and Alex Dimitrief. Sections 3 and 4 run nine pages in support of task-based billing. The authors advocate it and see the use of code sets widely: “the decidedly majority view is that task-based billing benefits corporations and law firms in a number of different ways.”

As benefits they cite the “logical format for uniform budgets and bills” that tasked-based billing provides. The accumulation of historical databases of information provides value. Third, in-house managers of outside counsel “are able to group like matters together for purposes of comparison.”

Much is written and said about the UTBMS codes (See my post of Dec. 21, 2008: UTBMS with 8 references.).

I remain unconvinced. By no means have a decided majority of law departments adopted UTBMS codes for their bills (See my post of Feb. 11, 2010: drawbacks of Uniform Task Based Billing Codes; and April 9, 2009: no good set of task-based codes exist for discovery.). Those who embrace codes, mostly very large departments, only sometimes make use of the tidal wave of problematic data that results and less frequently do they make effective use of it. How law firms benefit escapes me entirely.