Online Legal Research Cost Recovery: Is it an Oxymoron?

Editor’s Note: Reposted from the Legal Executive Institute’s blog with permission.

By Grace Carr Lee, Executive Director at Hoge Fenton, a midsize, multi-practice firm with offices in the Silicon Valley and the Tri-Valley areas of Northern California.

For decades, law firms have billed their clients for “soft costs,” including online legal research charges. Clients have always hated seeing these nickel & dime charges on their invoices, believing they are more fairly considered part of a law firm’s overhead. Who hasn’t heard a client argue that since they aren’t charged for updating books in a firm’s law library, why should they be charged for online legal research? Annoyed clients have increasingly pushed back on these soft costs, and many law firms have capitulated by reducing or eliminating them.

And today, that has resulted in law firms being faced with decreasing soft cost realization — a direct impact to the firm’s bottom line. Consequently, some firms have taken a more aggressive approach, doggedly charging clients for everything they can think of, including copies, scans, prints, postage and secretarial overtime. Other firms have simply thrown up their hands, deciding that any attempt at soft cost recovery is just not worth the effort. Some firms even have increased their hourly rates to account for the lost revenue, while others have imposed an administrative fee (usually, a percentage of the legal fees) that essentially does the same thing.

For those law firms that believe soft cost recovery makes sense, regardless of the method employed, any pricing strategy they employ must be ethical, transparent, reasonable and justifiable. Their clients deserve nothing less. Continue reading

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Librarians Taking Their Know-How on the Road: Empowering the Next Generation of Law Firms

by: Steven A. Lastres, Director of Library & KM, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Scott Bailey, Director of Research Services, Squire Sanders

A group of librarians from The Private Law Librarians Special Interest Section (PLL SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and The Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C. (LLSDC) have been brainstorming ways to promote the value of law librarians. The idea is to demonstrate to lawyers, the “C” level and other professionals that work in law firms not just the traditional value to the practice of law, but to show how law librarians can be strategic allies in supporting the business of law. Continue reading

What Role Should Consultants Play in Negotiating Online Services Contracts?

By Robert S. Stivers, Manager of Information Services
Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

I recently circulated a query to the Private Law Libaries Special Interest Section (PLL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) listserve asking whether anyone had  experience with a particular consulting firm and its offer to evaluate the firm’s online services contracts, and negotiate future contracts with LexisNexis and Westlaw.

I received approximately twenty responses which, as these things go, seemed like a reasonable amount of interest in the topic. The responses provided some excellent information about the consulting firm and others who provide the same type of services. The information was instructive, occasionally opinionated and included examples of both the positive and the less than positive experiences of my colleagues. Continue reading

How Librarians Add Value To Their Law Firms – Advice From Greg Castanias, Jones Day Library Partner

Comments by Gregory A. Castanias, Library Partner at Jones Day, Washington, DC about the reaction to the speech he gave during the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section Summit of the American Association of Law Libraries held in Philadelphia, PA, on July 23, 2011.

I confess that I was surprised at the reaction of the audience to my speech.  While it was clearly my intent to deliver a certain message, I did not expect that the assembled attendees would interrupt parts of it with applause, and, in at least one instance, loud table-pounding.  It’s apparent that the frustrations I’ve experienced from a partner-administrator level have been felt by librarians for years, and that my speech gave partner-level voice to many of those frustrations.    Continue reading

Cost Recovery vs. Cost Prevention: A Panel Discussion

by Colleen Cable, Cable&Clark

I moderated a fantastic panel at the annual SLA conference, and wanted to share the tips that were developed during the discussion. These tips are not difficult or costly; however, the impact on the bottom-line of the firm can be huge.

The diverse panel, made up of SLA Legal Division and AALL Private Law Librarian members, contributed to an insightful and informative discussion. Panel members were:

  • Jeff Bois, Manager of Library Services at Fish & Richardson
  • Steve Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
  • Rob Mattern, founder of Mattern & Associates
  • Connie Smith, Director of Research, Libraries and Competitive Intelligence at Morgan, Lewis

Continue reading