Ebilling ebilling or e-billing
Ebilling ebilling or e-billing

Legal e-billing, eBilling, or ebilling? The Pundits Weigh In

In Legal Operations and legal technology, it’s a furious debate that’s been underway for years. Do we spell it “e-billing,” “eBilling,” or “ebilling”?

This can be a scaldingly hot topic.  Or we like to think it might be, if you got the wrong industry pundits together.

So let’s imagine a gathering like that, and what a transcript of a webinar featuring them might look like…

Moderator: We’re joined by Astin Flummoux, E.W. Illing, and Xaviera DeFargle, three consultants who have worked in and around Legal Operations, to chat about this frankly divisive topic.  Put on your seatbelts, it’s going to get interesting!

Let’s introduce our first panelist.  A surprising number of people in Legal Operations have an opinion about Astin Flummoux —

Astin: If I may correct you?  It’s pronounced “Flum-moo,” not “Flum-mox.”

Moderator:  Sorry about that!  There was a lot of buzz around his recent webinar, “How an Ex-Lawyer Uses ELM”, and he was inspiring controversy even before then. Thank you, Astin, for joining us today. I understand you have a strong stance on how to spell the contraction of “electronic billing.” Why don’t you start us off?

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Astin: Of course! I’ve done lengthy research on this topic, and it’s crystal clear to me there’s only one correct answer here: It has to be spelled “e-billing” with a hyphen. A compound noun connects two words with a hyphen, and of course in this case you want the two connected. The idea is to avoid ambiguity; think of “laughing gas” as an example. The gas is not laughing, it’s a single term, and I would argue it should be hyphenated!

Xaviera: (MUTTERING) I think somebody was inhaling some of it before this call.

Moderator: I see Xaviera would like to chime in. For those in our audience who may not know her?  Xaviera, you consult with corporate legal departments about billing and invoicing best practices, so I’m sure you’ve got some “inside baseball”-type observations about how it’s being used by your clients?

Xaviera: It’s all over the place, frankly.  So, one of the first initiatives I launch with any client is to put best practices in place on how to properly spell the term.  It’s that important.

Astin: And you actually charge them for that?

Xaviera: (SCOWLS) I would like to respectfully disagree with Astin. We’re in 2021; it’s ridiculous to think that in this day and age we would need a hyphen to understand what we’re talking about. It’s eBilling, with a capitalized “b.”  The capitalization reminds us that the “e” in eBilling is short for “electronic” and contemporizes it!  Think “iPhone” or —

Astin: Seriously?

Xaviera: But the idea that we need a hyphen is silly. After all, what could eBilling as two separate words stand for? Nobody is dumb enough to figure that the letter “e” is invoicing someone!

Astin: Well, maybe anyone who cuts you a check —

Moderator: This is clearly getting feisty, but we expected nothing different. E.W., would you like to chime in too? For our audience, E.W. Illing has a 20-year track record in new technologies as a legal tech entrepreneur.  In fact, one industry news site just listed him among its “20 Legal Tech Providers We’re Surprised Are Still In Business.”

E.W.: I feel like it’s obvious that I have the right response here. My name, quite literally, is E. William “Bill” Illing —

Astin: (LAUGHS DERISIVELY)

E.W.: Hey, smart guy, how’s that ABA reinstatement going for you?

Astin: (EXITS CALL)

E.W.:  My professional opinion?  It should be spelled ebilling, with a lowercase “e” and “b.”  If you wrote out “electronic billing,” would you capitalize it? No, you wouldn’t. I’m actually a little surprised at how long this debate has gone on, not just in the legal profession but in other industries. Another thing to consider? Keystrokes.  When you hyphenate or capitalize it, you’re adding an unnecessary keystroke.  Over time, those mount up!  When you look back someday on your career, do you really want to be telling yourself, “I wish I had those keystrokes back”?

Xaviera: You know, when you look up any of these spellings in Webster’s, there’s no such word.

E.W.: A dictionary?  That’s so old-school.

Moderator: Well, there you have it. Three experts with three different answers, but no real answers.  We promise we’ll do better next time. But thank you all for joining us today.

And by the way?

Happy April Fools’ Day!

No character in this blog post is even remotely based upon an actual person in the real world.  If you know anyone who remotely resembles a character in this blog post?  Please don’t show them this blog post.

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