Should Law Firms Bill for Bills?
Rees Morrison wonders whether law firms should ever charge clients for preparation of bills. He begins by citing the conventional wisdom that says billing for bills is inappropriate:
"Under the model rules of conduct, it is normally inappropriate for a law firm to allow its timekeepers to charge clients for time they put into preparing bills (See John W. Toothman and William G. Ross, Legal Fees: Law and Management 44 (2003) and its citation to Restatement (Third) The Law Governing Lawyers, Sec. 38(3)(a)). Billing is an administrative necessity of a firm, a cost of business covered by billing rates, not a valued service to the client, and may not be charged. As Toothman and Ross put it, 'The distinction should be made between efforts to manage or run the law firm and those that are professional services rendered to the client.'"
Still, Morrison wonders whether billing is justified when lawyers spend substantial time customizing bills, synching them up with the budget and including projected expenditures. That's probably a service that clients want and arguably. At the same time, it seems that firms that already offer this level of detail for free would gain a competitive edge over firms seeking to charge for it. Shouldn't these added perks be a part of great client service anyway and a way for law firms to set themselves apart?
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 24, 2006 at 03:13 PM | Permalink
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