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New surveys indicate sea change in legal research billing costs to clients

Rachel M. Zahorsky, ABA Journal: “More and more billing partners are knocking research costs off invoices before they’re even submitted to clients, legal consultant Rob Mattern of Mattern & Associates recently told me…This trend is apparent at firms that negotiate deals with research providers but historically haven’t passed along discounts they received to their clients, sometimes as a means to collect on other, nonbillable items, Mattern added. Mattern’s firm’s 2012 Cost Recovery survey reported an influx of firms with clients who either balked at or outright refused to pay for legal research. While some firms have adopted policies to charge clients only the hard costs billed to them, others are adding legal research charges to the cost of doing business. In fact, 43 percent of law firm respondents said they absorb more of their legal research costs today than in 2010, according to a recent Bloomberg Law survey of 97 law firms, ranging from 50 to more than 400 attorneys. And transactional matters are less likely to recover legal research costs than litigation.”

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