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HomeRule Ten
Rule Ten: Billing and Fees

(a) A paralegal shall keep and submit to the client or law firm accurate and thorough time records whenever a client or law firm will be billed for the paralegal's time on an hourly basis.

(b) A paralegal shall bill only for work that was reasonable and necessary to complete the assignment undertaken.

(c) A paralegal shall not submit a bill or time records that will be used to prepare a bill for time the paralegal spent educating herself/himself without the prior consent of the client.

(d) A paralegal may not split legal fees with a lawyer, although a paralegal may receive a salary from a law firm and may bill a law firm for services provided on a contract basis.

(e) In addition to the above provisions, freelance paralegals should also abide by the following:

(1) A paralegal shall charge reasonable fees for services rendered.

(2) A paralegal shall not seek or keep compensation that has not been fully earned under a contract for employment or professional services, except to the extent that a paralegal receives an advance on fees the par`legal expects to earn, provided that the paralegal promptly refunds any unearned fees at the conclusion of the assignment.

Commentary

Generally, a paralegal will be generating fees for the law firm/attorney. All business matters related to fees should be left to the firm administrators or the attorneys. Paralegals should not be responsible for setting their own rate. The paralegal may be consulted when setting fees to ascertain the paralegal's experience level. The Illinois Paralegal Association publishes an annual Survey of Salaries and Benefits which provides information on billing rates by years of experience.

The paralegal is responsible for keeping track of the time spent on various matters. Accurate time keeping should be reported to the billing department on a regular basis. The paralegal should never determine to increase or reduce the amount of actual time spent on any matter. Any reduction or mark-up of a paralegal's time on a client's bill should be left to the firm administrator. Time spent in paragraph (c) of this rule should be properly identified so that the firm can account for the time and the client is not unfairly billed.

Freelance paralegals provide independent contractor services to attorneys and law firms. Freelance paralegals have the responsibility of running the day to day operations of their own business as well as providing services to attorneys or law firms.

Fees cannot be shared/split with an attorney or another party. When setting fees, the freelance paralegal should consider the years of experience, level of expertise and the specifics of the task at hand. The Illinois Paralegal Association provides guidelines for billing rates and billable hours in its annual Survey of Salaries and Benefits.