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Legal Bills

Physicians and attorneys provide professional services that are heavily dependent on exercising judgment. Physicians record their diagnoses and procedures in complex, standardized notations. Physicians throughout the world use the standard taxonomy for medical diagnoses, the ICD-9 (international classification of disease, revision 9). In the United States, physicians use the American Medical Association's current procedural terminology (CPT) system to classify medical procedures.

The lack of a rigorous descriptive system for legal problems and events is intimately tied to the structure of legal education and practice. The lack of formal structure makes it difficult for clients to track and manage legal services. Physicians may not understand from the notations on a bill what was done. Unlike the medical insurers, legal clients do not have any data on prevailing charges. From the client's perspective, the absence of a standard procedure code for legal procedures is more noticeable than the lack of a standard diagnostic code. While attorneys' hourly bills may be intricately detailed, they are seldom comparable among law firms or even from attorney to attorney in the same law firm. This lack of standardization prevents clients from comparing their legal services with those rendered to other clients. This lack of a consistent coding system makes it difficult to relate the billing entries to the progress of the client's case.

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