Thomson Reuters eBillingHub Perkins Coie, LLP
Leveraging APIs to unlock even more power from eBillingHub
Perkins Coie — an international, full-service law firm headquartered in Seattle with 20 offices across the U.S. and Asia — is on an automation journey. The goal is to empower its people, freeing them from mundane, time-consuming tasks so they can focus on the work that really matters to them and to clients, while creating more efficient processes along the way.
One of the key steps it has taken on that journey is to launch an innovative project to unlock even more power from eBillingHub®, the market-leading, automated e-billing solution from Thomson Reuters. By leveraging the application programming interfaces (APIs) that are available to customers, the firm has expanded the functionality of eBillingHub, accessing data in new ways to streamline workflows and improve the billing process.
The firm first adopted eBillingHub back in 2015, using it to pull data from its accounting system to create and submit LEDES files automatically, track submissions, issue notifications if a bill should be rejected or subject to a reduction, and to run reports. In 2020, there was a game-changing moment, when the chief financial officer of Perkins Coie learned that Thomson Reuters had released APIs which would enable the firm to gain access to electronic billing insights fueled by the firm’s data and to do even more with it.
Developing a tailored e-billing tool
Senior Manager Kumar Gaurav, who leads finance digital transformation at Perkins Coie, started investigating what possibilities the APIs presented. After working closely with the eBillingHub team over several weeks to research how the APIs could be used and what data they could deliver, he got in touch with the firm’s e-billing team to learn more about their processes.
It became clear that there was a major opportunity to save even more time, further improve visibility over billing, and enhance performance by pulling more data out of eBillingHub and bringing it together with disparate data from other sources into one platform. That was when the idea to develop the firm’s own Perkins Coie eBillingHub Invoice Tool was born.
Using multiple systems for different purposes — such as timekeeping, CRM, and financial management, as well as e-billing — was creating a time lag for the e-billing team because they often had to research, match, and verify data manually. It also made it harder to spot when an invoice had gone missing in the system and the sheer volume of data made running certain kinds of reports, such as a “30 days late” summary, a real challenge.
In creating a one-stop shop, the goal was to enable the busy e-billing team to be more productive and reduce the time spent on bookkeeping. “We wanted to give the e-billing team more power so they can focus on the bigger picture,” says Gaurav.
“I highly appreciate Thomson Reuters surfacing these APIs and giving customers the opportunity to do even more with their data,” he adds. “It’s an easy way to access it.” Having started developing a plan and a prototype in January 2021, the tool was up and running by May.
E-billing Supervisor Chri Sevo heads a team of ten e-billers who are responsible for making sure all the invoices sent out by the firm’s 1,200 lawyers are validated, submitted, accepted, and tracked. She was heavily involved in testing the tool and is already seeing significant benefits.
“I’ve been using eBillingHub since 2011 and I’ve never done any billing without it. I can only imagine that doing everything manually, without eBillingHub, would be a nightmare,” she says. “And the new (Perkins Coie) tool is super helpful. There’s a huge time saving in not having to pull data out of different systems and then compare it now that manual validation and monitoring is minimized. It’s quick. I can run a report immediately and see anything outstanding so that issues can be cleared up straight away, and those reports tell me who is responsible for the bill, rather than just who submitted it, which is huge.”
She also likes that all the information gets married into the database and is at their fingertips — with no need to paste it into Excel®; she and her team can choose which fields to focus on. They can run the tool on any type of information or status they want to see and then drill down into the data easily. More importantly, if an invoice has not been touched, it shows up and they can see how many days it has been there. “With 1,500 e-bill clients, checking all that would take a long time!” she points out.
Delivering empowerment to attorneys
This, in turn, helps lawyers who often aren’t immediately aware if there is a problem with a bill. They assume that when it is posted in their systems it will arrive to the client the same day and start being processed. Gaurav explains that when a bill has been sent out, lawyers need to know if there’s an issue because they are speaking to their clients regularly. To make it even easier for Chri and her team — and to provide each lawyer with the information and support they need — the firm has developed a chatbot, which will connect to the eBillingHub Invoice Tool, to facilitate the processing of bill queries.
Gaurav already has a roadmap of further enhancements planned for the platform, which includes getting additional data from eBillingHub APIs. The next step is to roll it out beyond the e-billing team so that others in the firm, such as the collections team and lawyers themselves, will have the insights they need. The ultimate goal is to build a lawyer portal where they will be able to see invoice data as well as client information in one place.
“This is not just about getting an accurate picture, it’s about giving good customer service to the lawyers and minimizing their pain points,” says Gaurav. “This saves even more time, and those hours all add up.”
Gaurav and Chri estimate that, although each bill query is different, with some quicker to resolve than others, on average the firm saves around 16 hours per week by using the tool. It also reduces the risk of write-offs and write-downs which have an adverse impact on its revenue cycle.
All this is just one part of a “big pie” as Gaurav puts it: a grand plan to leverage the power of technology even more deeply across the firm. Overall, the feedback has been excellent and it has been a win-win for all concerned. “We’ve come a long way with eBillingHub,” says Gaurav. “It’s working really well and we’re excited that there’s much more we can do.”
Am Law 50 firm Perkins Coie was founded in 1912. It provides corporate, commercial litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory legal advice to many of the world’s most innovative companies and industry leaders, and public and not-for-profit organizations.
The firm is an early adopter of digital processes and an innovator. It was eager to automate more processes to make it easier for staff to focus on high-level work and deliver top-quality outputs, while increasing efficiency and productivity.
eBillingHub was the pioneering e-billing product on the market when the firm first started using it — and they’re currently using version 2.0. Once APIs became available through the eBillingHub API Platform, a whole new level of data access opened. The firm used this as a jumping-off point to combine this with data from other systems and it developed its own personalized invoicing tool.
- Readily available, easy-to-use APIs enable firms to get more out of their data
- Opens the way to create a one-stop shop across systems
- Reduces manual processes
- Saves time and increases visibility
- Enables enhanced reporting and minimizes the risk of losses