Peer to Peer Magazine

Spring 2019

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 26 of 67

28 Until the AI Revolution Disrupts Timekeeping, Make the Most of Phase Codes B Y A I L E E N L E V E N T O N A N D J E N N Y A N N E H O R S T- M A R T Z I t seems as if useful artificial intelligence (AI) that would improve the business of law has been just around the corner forever. Great strides have been made, particularly with regard to consistent categorization of similar documents in e-discovery, due diligence, contract management and (cue Big Brother) logging of phone calls and websites visited. Still, much remains to be done before we can expect machines to interpret what lawyers do in real time and transform this data into an invoice for the client - or reveal the cost of the average deposition. Meanwhile, there is a fairly straightforward way to capture what a lawyer does and categorize it as you go – phase codes. The critical trick is to set up codes sensibly at the start of a matter and use them well. Codes are fundamentally about communication. And only with effective communication can we get everyone on the same page: clients have visibility into the work that is performed, lawyers have insight into what they are doing in the context of the matter, and both law firms and their clients are better able to manage the business of law. This article will explore some best practices to make the most of phase codes. We predict that these practices will still be needed after AI takes hold in timekeeping. Data, Timekeeping, and Efficiency Any serious attempt to ensure efficiency in legal services requires analysis of reliable data. A fundamental unit of measurement may be derived from timekeeping data, but there is a catch. Anyone who has attempted to review an invoice for legal services with each lawyer's time narratives will understand that it can be an exercise in mind-reading. The client and matter are clear, and perhaps it is evident that the timekeeper was doing something to reach a goal. Beyond that, however, the narrative will either be too specific or too vague to be illuminating ("Work on Smith documents; analyze

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