Electronic Billing or eBilling isn’t about generating a PDF file of an invoice and emailing it to a client according Dana Riel of Business Solutions, Inc. during a recent LexisNexis webinar: “Electronic Billing in Time Matters and Billing Matters.”
“Electronic billing is when your client comes to you and says you are not going to give us a paper bill anymore and you are not going to email us a bill in PDF format.”
Instead, she says, firms are required to put data into specially designated electronic data interchange (EDI) format file. She says there are over 250 EDI formats, however, nine times out of 10, clients will either put their data into, a LEDES1998B or a LEDES 2000XML format.
While this may sound like gibberish, it simply means in order to get paid by clients who use eBilling, law firms need to enlist a two-part process:
1) Have software in place, such as the Time Matters® software to allow firms to easily interpret these EDI files.
2) Have a product or service in place to make it possible for firms to receive the data from clients. She said this is typically made possible for firms through a client directed site.
“The first question we are usually asked when our clients let us know about this development, is why do companies make us go through this, why does any company want to do electronic billing?”
It all comes down to cost savings, says Ms. Riel.
Following the 2008 economic crash, audit houses approached clients offering them a cost effective solution to managing a company’s accounts receivables department. In tandem, these audit houses appeal to companies by serving as “watch dogs” by closely monitoring any activity to ensure the companies they serve don’t get over charged by law firms.
During much of the discussion, Ms. Riel, provides detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to set up eBilling in the Time Matters software platform. Along the way, she provided four universal tips law firms can use to get a better handle on the process:
1. Invest in Software that Supports EDI Formats. In order to execute the eBilling process you need to have a software application in place that will interpret a LEDES1998B and a LEDES 2000XML EDI format.
2. Enlist Professional Help for Customized Client Requests. While LEDES1998B and LEDES2000XML are standard, every once in a while a client will want something additional added in, or request a more customized template. In this case, hire a certified independent consultant to help. The additional investment will be well worth it to keep a client, she said.
3. Review Client Guidelines First. Before setting up an eBilling process internally, carefully read client guidelines first. These guidelines will typically provide very detailed information about the following:
- How the data file should be transmitted
- Name of website for transmission and your firm’s name, login, password and ID
- Confirmation that the law firm is an authorized vendor
- Instructions about how to charge fees and how to manage cost, including any codes that specify what the firm is, and is not, allowed to bill for
4. Use Client Website Tutorials. Once a website and password is provided, go to the website and sign-up for a tutorial. This will provide useful information about what people in the company the firm is allowed to work with and where to go to upload a file.
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Ms. Reil is part of the recently expanded LexisNexis Channel Partner Program. This post is by Carla Del Bove, who provides support to the business of law software product line based in the LexisNexis Raleigh Technology Center.
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