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Around the Blawgosphere: How Much Should a Solo Charge? Did Ex-Law Dean Make 'Unfortunate Comment'?


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How Much Should a Solo Charge?

At My Shingle, Washington, D.C., solo Carolyn Elefant distinguishes between advice on how solos should price their services and actual benchmarks. For benchmarks, she has some suggestions:

• The Laffey Matrix lists available reimbursement rates under fee-shifting statutes. Though the rates skew high and may often be rejected, showing them to clients may help clients see your rates as reasonable.

Rate Driver is an app that calculates rates based on city, practice area and the size of the firm.

• Elefant also points to the Flat Fee Family Law Calculator created by Gabriel Cheong, the owner of Infinity Law Group in Quincy, Mass. Cheong also authors Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer Blog. “This calculator is a masterpiece,” Elefant writes. “Not only does it generate flat fees, but it shows the items that inform the rate, raising it up or down.”


Whistle-Blown?

At The Belly of the Beast, former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper gave an “unfortunate comment award” to David Van Zandt over a sentence in an op-ed that the former Northwestern University Law School dean wrote for the New York Times: “Law schools and their faculties have a vested interest in requiring students to spend more time on campus and more money at their schools.”

Van Zandt did not have to embrace the U.S. News & World Report rankings that in many ways rewards law schools’ high expenditures, Harper wrote; most law deans condemned them. “Perhaps it’s coincidental, but consider the tuition trend during Van Zandt’s tenure: When he took over in 1995, three years’ tuition for a Northwestern law degree totaled $60,000. By 2008, it had more than doubled to third highest in the country. When he left in 2010, the degree cost $150,000 — just for tuition.” Harper also asserts that Northwestern’s call to charge the same amount for their accelerated law degree program as for their three-year law degree is “a choice, not an economic imperative.”


Solo’s App-titude

BigLaw firms have been creating apps since 2010—Morrison & Foerster’s free MoFo2Go appis an example of that, and even midsize firms like Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff in Cleveland have gotten in on the action. For a more exhaustive listing, check out the Law Firm Mobile blog, which identifies and describes the functionality of law-firm created smartphone apps.

But Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites took note of Scottsdale, Ariz., solo Aaron Kelly, who has created an app that “incorporates a couple clever ideas that could provide inspiration for other small-firm lawyers thinking of developing apps of their own.” Kelly’s app was created for the benefit of his clients and gives them access to information about their cases.


Taxing Computer Use Rules

University of Cincinnati College of Law professor Paul Caron noted on TaxProf Blog that the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel issued a policy (PDF) at the end of last week limiting staff’s use of government computers for personal use, including “personal communication on blogs and social networking sites.” Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist are specifically mentioned. However, “any use that reduces productivity or interferes with the performance of official duties” is also prohibited, and Caron implies in his post’s headline that his own blog would be considered a banned site. There was some debate in the comments about whether this was true. “At one point, TaxProf was blocked from IRS employees, but after the employees complained, the block was removed,” one anonymous commenter wrote.

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