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Law firms and patterns of billing for travel time

A 1997 study by the California State Auditor of expert witnesses used by the California Department of Transportation’s Legal Division looked at practices of expert witnesses when they bill for travel time. Out of 16 expert witness firms, 13 of them billed travel on behalf of a client at standard hourly rates. The other five firms (38%) billed at partial rates.

Law departments should tell each law firm in their retention letters or outside counsel guidelines the policies they agree to regarding travel time. Even when the law department takes a position, it needs to state when the clock starts running.