Recently, some law firms have ended the long-standing practice of charging clients the costs of electronic legal research. Previously, firms resorted to a discounted “pay-as-you-go” method with its electronic research vendors, and then billed clients for the actual (discounted) charges incurred.
Once firms selected one of the major electronic research providers such as Lexis or Westlaw as its single-source provider and negotiated fixed-price contracts, some firms took the next step of including the cost of electronic research in their lawyers’ billing rates. Those firms absorbed what was formerly a reimbursed expense, if not a profit center.
Law departments should push their firms in this direction (See my post of July 31, 2006 about preferred vendors and national contracts.).