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Discussing Cost Recovery

Clearly state the cost recovery case to your clients.

Sound communication helps clients understand the benefits to both parties

A ResearchAgent survey of research directors and law librarians reveals that billing for online research is a hot topic.

  • 87% feel that all forms of online research should be fairly allocated to clients
  • Only 5% feel that online research should be included in billable hours
  • 68% feel it is somewhat to very likely their firm will re-evaluate its research management strategy this year

Research suggests that attorney write-offs and client refusal to pay are among the top five challenges to cost recovery. When we dug deeper, we discovered that poor communication between partners and clients is often the culprit.

Partners are not always aware of the actual costs to the firm for write-offs. Many are not comfortable discussing cost recovery with clients. Clients, in turn, may not be clear on a firm's recovery policy or aware of the many steps a firm takes to ensure research efficiency.

Once your firm has made the decision to recover online research charges, you'll want to ensure that partners are well-equipped to explain these charges to your clients.

Decide when to talk to clients

Clear communication about the value of online research and your firm's cost recovery policy are key to client acceptance. Consider guiding partners to discuss the issue:

  • With all new clients upon acquisition
  • With existing clients before a major matter is begun
  • Each month before billing, if charges exceed the norm

Detail the benefits your clients receive

Online services, in addition to print resources, benefit clients by increasing the efficiency and thoroughness of research done on their behalf. Online services provide 24/7 access to:

  • All needed sources in one location
  • Information not available, or easily accessible, in print
  • The most current information–even pending or proposed regulations

Describe your commitment to efficient research

Consider sharing the ways in which your firm ensures its attorneys are cost-effective and expert researchers. For example, you may:

  • Train regularly on cost-effective research practices
  • Prevent new attorneys from using online services until training requirements are met
  • Encourage attorneys to choose the most cost-effective research medium based on the issue
  • Encourage attorneys to take advantage of expert research assistance provided by the firm library and online service providers, such as Reference Attorneys

Share your focus on value

Do you use online client ID validation to ensure that research is correctly assigned to clients? Scrutinize online charges for accuracy? Pass negotiated savings along to clients? If so, be sure to tell your clients.

More about cost recovery

Managing billing with QuickView+

Setting up client validation

Cost recovery training