What the firm pays:
Firms pay a flat rate for whatever piece of Westlaw/Lexis Advance they purchase. For example, a firm may purchase an Ohio only package, and material from other states is outside the firm's plan. The firm has unlimited use of materials in the plan during the duration of the contract, without additional charge.
If an attorney gets a result in their search which is outside of the plan, they get a warning that the document is outside their plan. If the attorney decides to access that document, they are charged an additional fee for that out-of-plan document.
Sample (nondiscounted) costs:
Usually a discount is applied and the firm pays something less than the costs listed in the pricing guides, above.
Note that in Westlaw, a document delivery charge for downloading/printing may apply in addition to the cost of viewing the document. WestlawNext gives the option of hourly (charged by the amount of time you are on the document) or transactional (charged per document accessed). Of course, some of these out-of-plan documents may be accessed on the Internet for free, or from a lower cost database.
Cost Recovery: (what the firm charges to a client)
Westlaw: It is up to the firm how much, if at all, they will bill back to the client. Westlaw suggests billing $99 per search, which price includes all the documents clicked on (unless the document is outside of the plan). This is known as "WestlawNext Predictable Pricing".
Lexis Advance: It is up to the firm how much, if at all, they will bill back to the client. Under the current price structure, the client may be charged $60 per search (or some other number, as the firm determines), plus a cost for each document clicked on, for both documents in the firm's plan or not.
Client billing may be based on nondiscounted retail costs, such as those listed in the pricing guides, above. However, firms usually charge something less than the retail costs.
Not all firms bill research costs to clients. Some firms include research costs as part of overhead, or only pass along the out-of-plan costs.
For more resources concerning cost recovery and the ethics of cost recovery, see Cost Recovery - Florida State University.