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Legal Expenses

20 Non-Reimbursable Legal Expenses


Male lawyer talking to injured client
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In past decades, law firms routinely passed expenses and disbursements on to the client. Often, the law firm applied a surcharge to many of these expenses creating a lucrative profit-center for the firm.

Today, cost-conscious clients are becoming more watchful of litigation expenses, which often comprise ten to thirty percent of a legal bill. Law firm expenses and disbursements are generally considered to be a part of the firm's overhead and are not reimbursable by the client, absent extraordinary circumstances.

You should always review your law firm's policies and the client's billing guidelines for specific directives on how to properly bill time. However, in most cases, clients will not pay for the following legal expenses:

  1. Photocopying/faxing surcharge fees (fees should be passed on at cost and should not exceed market rate)
  2. Incoming faxes
  3. Routine postage
  4. Overtime meals
  5. Staff overtime (secretary, paralegal, law clerks, etc.)
  6. Temporary staffing fees
  7. Excessive or unauthorized computerized research fees
  8. Travel time at full billing rates
  9. Word processing/secretarial services
  10. Unnecessary or excessive use or overnight mail or delivery services
  11. Local courier/messenger fees
  12. Local telephone calls
  13. Local meals
  14. Equipment rental or purchase
  15. Seminars/CLEs/training
  16. Office supplies
  17. Storage fees
  18. Administrative charges (such as fees for opening new files, computer installation fees, invoice preparation, etc.)
  19. Books, magazines and other subscriptions
  20. Conference room charges

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