UTBMS (the Uniform Task Based Management System) is a series of codes used to classify legal services performed by a legal vendor in an electronic invoice submission.
A History of UTBMS
In the mid-1990’s major US law departments and insurers wanted to better understand the services provided by outside counsel. The manner in which paper bills presented this information was virtually impossible to digest; it was not uncommon for bill to include a description of services performed by a timekeeper on a single day that ran for multiple paragraphs or pages.
A joint group from The American Bar Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel and PricewaterhouseCoopers was formed to create a unified electronic billing standard.
By adding codes to time entries it is possible for receiving systems to electronically test invoice submissions, allowing for consistent enforcement of a law department’s outside counsel billing guidelines and alleviating some of the burden on bill reviewers. Time entry coding assists with reporting and facilitates comparison of the services provided by outside counsel working for the law department.
It was decided that electronic invoice time entries should be task-based and aggregated by type of work performed, resulting in the possibility that multiple time entries could result from the services performed in a single day on a matter. A three-phase approach was identified to categorize the services performed.
- Task codes are a granular description of the service provided by area of law. Task codes roll up to less-granular phases within the area of law . Some clients require more granular task codes whereas other clients prefer the less-granular phase codes. Look to your client for information on how they want services classified.
- Activity codes identify the specific service performed, i.e., I wrote something, I spoke with someone or I researched something. Some clients do not require activity codes. Look to your client for information on how they want services classified.
- Expense codes were created to categorize expenses on matters.
The project to create a coding system ran simultaneously with another effort to create a standard format for the exchange of billing information. Once the UTBMS project was complete, the project team disbanded whereas the e-billing project group morphed into what is now known as the LEDES™ Oversight Committee. (See ledes.org for more information on the work of this globally recognized standards organization.)
Several years later a cross-industry group formed to create address additional coding schema needs, beginning with consideration of patent and trademark codes. This organization merged with the LEDES Oversight Committee in 2007.
Since this time, the LEDES Oversight Committee has been prolific in updating and creating new UTMBS standards and UTBMS standards have been created by numerous other organizations as well.
This web site functions as a central referral point for all known UTBMS standards and provides information on new standards efforts that are underway.