Billing for Research Costs?

ImageThe ABA Journal reports that recent surveys by Mattern & Associates and Bloomberg Law reveal that more clients are balking at paying for research costs.  In an article, Firms Wave Goodbye to Billing for Research Costs, the journal reviews the Bloomberg Law Survey, Law Firm Cost Recovery Research, and the Mattern & Associates’ 2012 Cost Recovery Survey.   The Bloomberg study reveals that 43% of the firms surveyed in 2012 reported that they were treating research costs as overhead while they were not doing so in 2010.  Firms report that they are absorbing the following research costs:  document retrieval, online research, faxing charges, shipping charges, scanning charges, and printing charges.  Mattern’s 2012 Cost Recovery Survey reflects that clients will reimburse for hard costs associated with third party vendors such as Lexis or Westlaw; however, many clients now expect their lawyers to treat research as overhead rather than billing for it.  Bloomberg Law’s Lou Andreozzi says “The third-party cost of online research used to be a billable charge to everyone, and we’re seeing pretty fast that’s been eroded and a lot of firms are treating it as overhead.”  What does this mean for newly minted attorneys?  Become cost effective legal researchers so that you can easily treat research costs as overhead.

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Associate Professor of Law Charleston School of Law 385 Meeting St., Suite 322B Charleston, S.C. 29403 843.377.2144
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