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Survey finds that required use of UTBMS code makes only a modest difference in firm billing behavior

A survey conducted in the past month by Legalbill obtained data from more than 600 law firm lawyers about their use of UTBMS codes. The survey asked them “To what extent did the clients’ requirement of your use of the UTBMS codes change your billing behavior?” My presupposition was that tasked-based billing should not change a firm’s billing patterns: timekeepers simply avoid block billing and choose the most appropriate code for the activity.

According to the survey findings, four out of ten of the lawyer respondents said that the code requirement changed their billing to a moderate or large degree; the remainder said that it made no difference or only a small difference. Perhaps for those firms that had not previously had to do even that much responded that, yes, they had “changed their billing behavior.” I think of that as an administrative change in behavior. As for more profound “billing behavior,” we can’t tell from the wording of the question whether code usage changed what was substantively done by the firm, who did the work, or how much the firms billed. Those would be practice changes, and much more telling.

If you would like the fuller set of the data results, write Legalbill’s Managing Partner, Stephen French.