Our consultancy, Mattern & Associates, conducts a biennial survey about law firm cost recovery practices in order to develop benchmarks and suggest best practices. The survey was posted on our website, from June through August 2010. We received responses from 81 firms, including 50 from firms with more than 500 attorneys. Five trends emerged, demonstrating increasing client frustration.
1. Client pushback is increasing. The survey showed that client pushback -- and outright refusal to pay -- is much more intense than in the past. The leading irritants are legal research and word processing, followed by telephone calls, and black-and-white photocopies.
Based upon follow-up discussion with respondents, clients seem skeptical about whether fees charged for legal research and word processing reflect the firm's actual costs. Further, many clients feel these services should be part of a firm's overhead -- aka, the cost of doing business.