ming interface to obtain data, albeit the
amount and type of data available to
No Surprises is limited to a third-party’s API. If the firm’s time and billing
system is installed on premise, No Surprises installs a transmitter that makes
read-only requests to an SQL database
for data; the results are transmitted to
Viewabill’s web service via H T TPS.
Viewabill’s client dashboard displays legal costs for all service engagements and matters in a bar chart that displays activity for 7, 30, or 90 days. Bars
represent daily activity in hours entered
in the firm’s time and billing system.
You can select the time of the display
from the top of the page No Surprises’
home page displaying current activity
by engagement and matter. Total hours
and costs for the selected period ( 7, 30,
or 90 days) are calculated at the top of
the bar chart that displays daily activity.
The dashboard view calculates costs
using total hours from “blocked” and
published rates. The blocked rates indicate the number of billable hours the
firm has entered without disclosing the
billing rate to the client. The total cost
(hours x rates) is displayed as the calculated cost, plus any balance due from
an unpaid invoice. The chart context
changes to a specific engagement and
matter, which is selected from the lower
left-hand side of the dashboard, which
lists matters alphabetically by law firm.
When I drilled down into a law firm’s
matters from the dashboard, I saw each
matter the firm is working on along
with the number of time entries and
total hours for all entries. Alongside
each matter is a button labeled “Pencils
Down.” When I clicked on that, a dialog
box opens to prompt me to send a message to inform the law firm to stop working on the matter.
Drilling down one more time lays
bare specific time entries with data on
the time-keeper, cost, time entered, task
descriptor, and any notes. Each individual time entry has an “i” button that displays when the time entry was made and
a question mark to send the provider a
question on the item.
I sent a provider a “Pencils Down”
message from the dashboard, which
triggered an email to the firm, asking it
to stop billing for the task until further
notice. The billing partner received an
HTML email to reply and confirm the
request. The message is returned to the
dashboard via HTTPS and posted for
the client to review.
When I reviewed my sent message
copied to the dashboard’s “Conference
Viewabill presents HTML
reports on matters, billing
rates, time-keepers, and
time entries from law firm
time and billing systems.
Room,” the message informed me when
I made the Pencils Down request and
when I received the response. Both log
entries indicated the minutes that had
elapsed since I made the request and
since I received an answer from the current time. I would rather see the date
and time stamp surfaced in this view.
Rather than keep a periodic watch on
the dashboard, I set up alerts or notifications by matter and chose a threshold
amount of time or dollars for the firm
to expend. When the firm reaches the
threshold I set, Viewabill notifies me via
email or pushes the alert to the dashboard. Then I selected a distribution
schedule for all my alerts: none, daily,
or weekly. I would prefer to set a distribution time for each alert, rather than
apply one distribution time for all notifications. Some matters may be more critical than others.
The Viewabill toolbar menu at the
top of each page provides quick access
to your dashboard and individual mat-
ters, messages, and a request form to
contact your service provider aka law
firm and request information for other
matters. The law firm has its own inter-
face to Viewabill to set up client access,
configure matters, and set permissions
to open or restrict views to time and bill-
ing data. A search feature (magnifying
glass icon) is also on the menu bar.
Attorney Sean Doherty is LTN’s technology editor.