Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard

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The Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard is a set of file format specifications intended to facilitate electronic data transmission in the legal industry. The phrase is abbreviated LEDES and is usually pronounced as "leeds". The LEDES specifications are maintained by the LEDES Oversight Committee (LOC), which was formed by the Law Firm and Law Department Services Group within PricewaterhouseCoopers. Members of the committee have included law firms, corporate legal departments, universities, and software vendors. The LOC was first informally created in 1995 to address e-billing issues and then incorporated as a California mutual-benefit nonprofit corporation in 2000.[1]

The LOC currently maintains four sets of data elements and four data exchange format types. The four sets of data elements are: activity codes; expense codes; timekeeper classification codes; and Uniform Task-Based Management System codes. The four data exchange format types are: electronic billing (e-billing); budgeting; timekeeper attributes; and intellectual property matter management.

The LOC recently announced a business partnership with LSG, a legal billing software provider. The two organizations will work together to create web-based content to aid law firms, vendors and corporate clients in the electronic billing process. [2]

Electronic billing formats[edit]

The electronic billing data exchange format types provide a standard data format for electronically transmitted invoices, typically from a law firm to a corporate client. The LEDES e-billing format currently has the following variations:[3]

  • LEDES 1998, the first "LEDES" format, created in 1998, but no longer in use.
  • LEDES 1998B, a pipe-delimited plain text file. The standard was adopted in 1998, and it is by far the more commonly used LEDES format. It lacks some flexibility, having a rigid structure. Another disadvantage of LEDES 1998B is that invoice-level data is repeated on every line item even though it is only needed once, as it does not vary per line. Many clients attempt to impose nonstandard customizations, thus defeating the purpose of having a standard. Nonetheless, law firms prefer it for its simplicity and familiarity.
  • LEDES XML2000, adopted in 2000, is an XML format. Adoption was slow, but is now fairly widespread. One advantage of LEDES 2000 is that although the structure is well defined, the specification defines "extend" segments, allowing the insertion of client-specific fields without breaking the format or violating the standard.[4]
  • LEDES 1998BI (international), a pipe-delimited plain text file, based on the LEDES 1998B standard. This format was designed to accommodate legal bills generated outside of the United States. It includes all of the fields in the LEDES 1998B format, plus additional ones. The format was proposed in 2004 by the Legal IT Innovators Group (LITIG). The LEDES Oversight Committee (LOC) ratified the format in 2006.
  • LEDES XML2.0, ratified in 2006 and addresses international needs in XML format. Contains 15 segments and 153 data elements.
  • LEDES XML2.1, ratified in 2008. Contains 16 segments and 191 data elements.[5]

Other data exchange formats[edit]

The other LEDES data exchange formats are as follows:

  • LEDES Budget was ratified in 2006. This XML format facilitates the exchange of budget data between law firms and clients.
  • LEDES Timekeeper Attribute was ratified in 2007 and revised in 2014. This XML format used to transmit timekeeper and rate data to from law firms to clients.
  • IPMM Invention Disclosure Standard was ratified in 2015. This is a set of XML schemas that can validate an XML document containing invention disclosure data.[6][7][8]


In April 2006, the UTBMS Update Initiative voted to merge into the LEDES Oversight Committee. The Uniform Task-Based Management System is a widely used system for coding legal work.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jarman, Roger (Dec 2008), "Compliant Legal E-Billing: A Global Perspective", E-Billing White Paper and Survey Results, Austin, TX: International Legal Technology Association, pp. 3–4, retrieved 27 Feb 2016
  2. ^ Markham, Gary (Feb 3, 2020), "LSG & LEDES™ Announce Business Partnership", Partnership Announcement and Goals, New York, NY: Cision® PR Software, retrieved 9 Feb 2020
  3. ^ Wirtz, Scott (1 Sep 2006), "Electronic Legal Invoice Delivery", Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Mountainside, NJ: Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, p. 22, retrieved 26 Feb 2016
  4. ^ Hodge, Jeff (March 2005), "LEDES on Steroids: 2K Is Coming!", Finance: Accounting in the Electronic Age, Austin, TX: International Legal Technology Association, pp. 15–16, retrieved 27 Feb 2016
  5. ^ Bennitt, Jane A. (March 2012), "Global E-Billing and the LEDES Oversight Committee", Peer to Peer, Austin, TX: International Legal Technology Association, pp. 96–98, retrieved 27 Feb 2016
  6. ^ Plonsker, Larry, ed. (December 2014), "Invention Disclosures—A Standard Is Needed" (PDF), LES Global News, Wellington, FL: Licensing Executives Society International, XLIX (4), pp. 7–8, ISSN 0270-174X, retrieved 26 Feb 2016
  7. ^ Sikand, Sunjeev (17 Apr 2015), "Merits Of An XML-Based Invention Disclosure Standard", Law360, New York, NY: Portfolio Media, retrieved 28 Mar 2016, In 2014, the Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES) Intellectual Property Matter Management (IPMM) subcommittee proposed an extensible markup language (XML) invention disclosure standard. An XML-based invention disclosure standard can fulfill a critical need that conventional invention disclosure forms fail to address, namely validation of invention data and automated data analysis. An invention disclosure that conforms to the IPMM standard will receive initial data quality checks and be readable by any conforming application and structured for further handling and analysis.
  8. ^ Hunziker, Robin (2017). "Invention Disclosure Standard". The SciTech Lawyer. Chicago: The American Bar Association. 13 (2): 24–25. ISSN 1550-2090. OCLC 663373112. Retrieved 18 Apr 2017.
  9. ^ "The Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES) Finalizes Code Sets for Intellectual Property Expenses". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. October 23, 2007. Retrieved 26 Feb 2016.

External links[edit]