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Set up and Manage eBilling (LEDES)

Introduction

At times, law firm’s client(s) may require invoices to be submitted in an electronic format (eBill) rather than on paper copy or PDF. For example, this requirement is widely prevalent with large insurance firms who must maintain uniformity and audit controls in the type of bills they receive from law firms or other vendors. 
 
The client may instruct you to provide an ‘eBill’ in a pre-defined format so that it can be run through a special software to read. Simply providing them a PDF or Word copy of your invoice from CosmoLex will not be sufficient as eBills are to be generated in this specific format. 
 

While there are many different electronic bill formats in the market, the industry-standard format is LEDES 1998B, and CosmoLex supports this format. If your firm requires another format, please contact our support department.

Once a matter has been enabled for eBilling in CosmoLex, you would need to start using codes for each time or expense entry. Normally, standard UTBMS codes are used for this purpose but it is possible that your clients might have specified different codes to be used. In CosmoLex, you can enable UTBMS codes without enabling eBilling, and customize those codes.

For the LEDES 1998B format, each fee transaction needs both a task code and an activity code and each expense transaction has an expense code.

Enable eBilling (LEDES) in CosmoLex

The initial setup for eBills in CosmoLex should be performed by a well-trained person at your firm. In the beginning stage, you should also contact your clients to ensure a sample eBill is adequate and so you can address any errors that may come up.

Setting up eBilling (LEDES 1998B format) in CosmoLex requires various steps and requirements. The following are all required steps, unless otherwise noted. Missing one of the required steps could cause errors when generating eBills.

Step 1: Setup > Firm Settings

First, you must turn on eBilling as an option at the firm level.

1. From the Matters tab, click the Setup tab

2. From Firm Settings, click the eBilling tab

3. Click the toggle button to turn on eBilling

4. Type your Law Firm ID. Law Firm ID is a unique identifier which can identify law firm to your clients. Most commonly, the law firm’s TIN is used.

5. Enable UTBMS Codes that pertain to your practice

Step 2: Setup > Timekeeper

Next, enable eBilling for each Timekeeper.

1. From the Setup tab, click the Timekeeper tab on the left-hand panel

2. Select any Timekeeper and click  Edit

3. Under Advanced Settings, click on eBilling

4. Enter the Timekeeper ID. This is a unique identifier for each TimeKeeper whose time is being billed. It could be an employee ID #, initials, social security number, etc.

5. Select the Timekeeper Classification that most closely matches the Timekeeper you are editing.

6. When ready, click Save.

7. Repeat steps 2-6 for each Timekeeper

Step 3: Contact > Client

1. Click the Contact tab

2. From the Client Tab, select the client who needs eBilling and click Edit

3. Complete ‘Client ID’ field. The client ID is a unique law firm assigned client code which must be specified for each client. 

4. When ready, click Save.

Step 4: Matter

1. Click on the Matters tab, select your desired matter (any matter that requires eBilling) and click Edit. This can also be done while adding a new matter.

2. Ensure Matter File # is not empty. The Matter File # is a Law firm assigned alphanumeric figure which must be specified for each matter in order to enable eBilling. This can be done by entering the number manually or setting up automated file numbering in settings.

3. Click Advanced Settings, then click eBilling

4. Check the box to Enable eBilling. This option is only available if eBilling is enabled at the firm level as described above. This allows you to selectively enable eBilling only for Matters where it’s needed.

5. Restrict Task Codes (optional). If this matter’s client only allows restricted codes, set those restrictions here. This will ensure that only the appropriate codes will be available while entering Time/Expense cards for this particular matter.

6. eBilling Format is LEDES 1998B as that is currently the only available option in CosmoLex

7. Enter Client Issued Matter ID. This is a number provided by your client, needed in order to generate adequate eBill.

8. When ready, click Save.

All set! After eBilling has been set up for a matter, you will see a symbol next to the matter indicating eBilling is enabled.

How to Generate eBills

Once a matter has been enabled for eBilling, you can enter your time and expenses and produce an Invoice. 
 

1. Generate an Invoice. Even though you wish to generate an eBill, you must first generate an invoice as usual. Not sure how? Learn how to generate invoices.

2. After invoice is generated, from the Invoice tab, select the invoice, click  Action, and click Generate eBill

All set! If eBilling has been set up properly, this will produce an electronic file for the selected Invoice. This file can then be submitted to your client. If there are any required parameters missing, you will be shown the error. Once those parameters are entered, you can follow Step 2 to generate the eBill again.

LEDES 1998B Output File

An exported LEDES file is an electronic file that can only be read by a special software. At first glance, it won’t make much sense if you try to read it yourself. For better understanding, here are the meanings and conditions for some of the fields included in the file.

  • BILLING_END_DATE – This value is set with the “Include Time/Expense Till” date which is specified when an invoice is first generated

  • BILLING_START_DATE – This value is calculated automatically. If there is no previous invoice, this is used as a beginning of the month of the “BILLING_END_DATE” value. If there is a previous invoice, this value is set as the day after “BILLING_END_DATE” of the previous invoice.

  • Activity Code – This refers to the activity code appearing when entering time entries. CosmoLex allows you to leave the activity code blank but LEDES 1998B format states these are mandatory fields. Many of the newer LEDES formats allow these fields to be blank. To provide maximum flexibility to our users, CosmoLex allows a blank activity code but it is the user’s responsibility to check with their clients about their specific requirements. When in doubt, use Activity Codes.

  • LAW_FIRM_MATTER_ID – Only the first 20 characters are used when exporting the eBilling file.

How To Improve Accuracy of eBills

Due to a large number of available UTBMS codes, and preferences of many audit houses/processors to allow only certain codes, the chances of incorrect code use are high. This can lead to rejection of nonconforming bills.

Often, when law firm staff enter time entries, they may be unaware of different situations for the firm’s various eBilling clients. Clearly, rejected bills are both time consuming and costly for the law firm.

CosmoLex provides the following options to help minimize such errors:

Make Specific Expense Codes Inactive

1. From the Setup tab, click List Items

2. Click Expense tab, then click UTBMS

3. Here, select an expense and click Edit

4. Un-check the “Active” box, and click Save.

Make any codes you do not want to use for any client “inactive.” System-provided codes can not be deleted, but when made inactive they will not appear as available.

Enable Appropriate UTBMS Codes at Firm Level

When enabling eBilling at the Firm level, as shown above, only enable UTBMS codes relevant to your practice areas.

Enable Appropriate UTBMS Codes at Matter Level

When enabling eBilling at the Matter level, only enable UTBMS codes relevant to that matter.

If a particular Matter can only use a limited set of codes, use “Restrict Task Codes” function and select codes which are allowed.

Updated on May 29, 2019

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