January 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm #1412Legal Fee AdvisorsKeymaster
The easiest avenue for cutting your legal costs is identifying the following entries or tasks within your legal bill:
- Clerical and/or Administrative Tasks
- Unknown timekeepers
- Travel time
- Interoffice meetings
- Legal Research (both time spent and expenses)
Clerical and/or Administrative Tasks – Your attorney should not bill you for completing tasks that require no legal knowledge. Administrative tasks and the administrative staff who complete them should be incorporated into the firm’s overhead. Examples of these tasks include: filing, delivering, scanning, downloading, or duplicating documents; scheduling meetings, depositions or court appearances; and preparing or reviewing invoices.
Unknown timekeepers – Notice a new staff member’s name somewhere in your bill? You should ensure it’s not a summer associate or other timekeeper who may not be able to complete tasks as efficiently and quickly as another professional within the firm. Conversely, you should ensure a more senior attorney such as a partner delegates simple tasks to a more junior staff member such as a paralegal.
Travel time – Unless your attorney is completing substantive work whilst travelling, the time they spend travelling to and from a destination (whether it is for a meeting or trial etc.) should only be billed at half their hourly rate – if at all.
Interoffice meetings – The time attorneys spend internally discussing your case should be monitored, you should ensure not more than one attorney is billing for their time in this type of meeting (usually it is the most senior attorney whose time is billable).
Legal Research – You’ve hired your attorney for their specialized knowledge and skill – make sure they’re not spending an exorbitant amount of time researching issues they should already have extensive knowledge in. Time spent in excess of 2 hours should be flagged, as well as any expenses for accessing legal databases such as LexisNexis or Westlaw (these expenses should be absorbed into the firms overhead).
Having a set of Billing Guidelines, in conjunction with your retainer agreement, is an effective way of outlining to your attorney what you will and will not pay for. You can read more about them on our site here.
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