Welcome to the latest installment of our blog companion series for Beyond the Serves. This series is designed to provide you with insights and information about the innovative services offered by One Legal and the technology that backs them. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned user or new to our platform, this guide will help you navigate the latest features of our Billing Center, making your litigation management more efficient and cost-effective. 

This is a companion blog post to our Beyond the Serves webinar series. You can register and catch up with any of the episodes here!

The importance of cost management in litigation

Effective cost management in litigation is vital. Whether your firm operates on a cost recovery model or includes litigation costs in a fixed fee plan, accurate and detailed expense tracking is essential for everyone. 

Expenses can quickly add up, and law firms often choose between cost absorption, cost recovery, or hybrid models. 

With evolving practices, more firms are moving towards cost recovery, necessitating a cultural shift in existing practices and more detailed documentation. 

One Legal provides the tools you need to manage these expenses efficiently, ensuring you can recover costs in compliance with ABA rules and client expectations. 

Key ABA rules for cost recovery

Understanding the ethical guidelines for billing and cost recovery is essential. The American Bar Association’s Rule 1.5(a) requires lawyers to avoid charging unreasonable amounts for litigation expenses. 

The ABA’s guidelines on expense recovery emphasize reasonableness. Legal services, court filings, and process services are recoverable, but the costs must be justifiable. One Legal ensures transparency in pricing, helping you maintain compliance and avoid unreasonable charges. 

Ethics Opinion 93-379 extends this to disbursements to third parties and in-house services, which must reflect actual costs without profit. Rule 1.5(b) mandates that all cost recovery items be disclosed to clients from the start. 

Considerations for LEDES billing

Efficient categorization of litigation expenses is facilitated by LEDES (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standards) billing. This standardization ensures uniform expense categorization, meeting corporate client requirements. Key categories include court fees, subpoena fees, witness fees, and litigation support vendors. Accurate documentation and compliance are crucial for maintaining client satisfaction. 

Cost memorandums and California court rules

To recover litigation costs, the prevailing party must file a memorandum of costs (Form MC-010) within specific deadlines set by the California Rules of Court. This memorandum must include detailed, itemized costs supported by receipts. The opposing party has 15 days to challenge these costs. 

How One Legal helps to manage costs

One Legal plays a significant role in categorizing and managing litigation expenses. It handles various services, including filing, service of process, and court fees, which typically account for about 15% of litigation costs. By consolidating multiple expenses, One Legal simplifies the billing process and reduces overhead. 

Consolidating multiple expenses

One Legal allows you to combine various litigation-related expenses—court filings, process serving, courtesy copy delivery, and more—into a single platform. This consolidation simplifies billing, reduces the number of vendors you deal with, and provides a consistent and transparent pricing structure. 

No extra charges for disbursements

Unlike many other vendors, One Legal does not charge additional fees for disbursing court filings or witness fees. We handle these payments upfront and invoice you for reimbursement, eliminating unexpected charges and ensuring compliance with ABA rules on reasonableness. 

Detailed invoices and receipts

One Legal provides detailed order receipts and invoices for every transaction. These documents include a comprehensive breakdown of statutory disbursements and One Legal fees, facilitating easy expense tracking and cost recovery. 

Invoices are available in your account, and you can access them anytime for future reference. 

Flexible payment methods

We offer several payment methods to suit your firm’s needs, including: 

The Billing Center

The Billing Center in your One Legal account is a powerful tool for managing your expenses. It features: 

Why use matter/billing codes?

Matter and billing codes enhance organization and filtering options. These codes can be assigned to each order, making it easier to search and manage orders in the billing center. One Legal is developing more matter-centric functionality on a progressive basis with our team of engineers based on customer feedback. 


Managing litigation expenses is crucial for any law firm, and our billing center streamlines this process by consolidating costs, providing detailed invoices, and offering flexible payment methods. 

Our tools ensure compliance with ABA rules and facilitate easy expense tracking, making cost recovery straightforward for law firms. 

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