Do law departments realize that many firms don’t routinely charge back common expenses?

Gale force winds blow the message that legal departments should tourniquet various expenses charged by profligate law firms. A recent breeze from the opposite quarter, however, tells us that many firms do not frequently or routinely charge to clients expenses that sometimes blow clients away.

ILTA’s 2009 Technology Survey, at 19, lists 11 expenses and the percentage of law firms that said they often do not charge them to clients. Prominent examples include photocopies (14%), courier/delivery (21%), faxes (38%), and long distance charges (39%). Further, as shown on page 50, the larger the firm, the more likely it is to eat these expenses.

This data surprises me, because a disproportionate share of complaints about law firms focus on their disbursement expenses (See my post of Dec. 1, 2006: disbursements of law firms with 7 references.). If so many firms absorb these common expenses in their billing rates, maybe the squall should pass over or general counsel should snuff them out entirely, which is admittedly not a wind-wind solution.

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