Law practices have traditionally billed legal work based on the amount of time it takes for the lawyer to do each letter, phone call, attend a meeting, and the like.
Legal costs are advised ‘up front’ as best estimates based on the likely time it might take to do the work.
And we are not talking real time here! Lawyers in such firms have time sheets to complete at 6 minute intervals throughout their working day. So, if a phone call with you takes 2 minutes, for example, you would be charged for 6 minutes.
In this way, legal costs can soon mount up and estimates can be exceeded.
The point is that, with this approach to the costing of legal work, you, the customer, bear all the risk of a “blow out” in the time it takes to complete the work. You end up paying more.
Now, your legal costs can still be priced in this old way, if you prefer. We can readily do so.
However, at Sharrock Pitman Legal, we do recommend that your legal work be priced differently and in a way which will be much better for you than the old way. How so?
For a first consultation at our office, there is a fixed price. We do not watch the clock!
Instead, at the first consultation, we listen to you, get the facts, understand your preferred outcome, and then give helpful and practical advice. During this process, you will not be directed as to what to do. Rather, you will be given options and recommendations, based on both your legal position and our knowledge and experience gleaned from past, similar work.
The fixed price is payable at the end of the first consultation but only if you have found our advice to be most helpful.
If you require our ongoing assistance after the first consultation, we will carefully assess the work involved and decide upon a fixed price for that work.
In deciding on price, we take into account numerous, relevant factors, including:
- the difficulty, uniqueness and complexity of the issues raised
- the knowledge, skills and expertise required of us
- the experience and expertise of the lawyers who will be involved, including whether the work should be undertaken by one of our accredited specialists
- the outcome and result sought and the benefit you will receive from our work
- the amount of money in dispute or the monetary value to you of the transaction
- the number of lawyers who will be involved and the other resources needed from us
- the amount of research of law and legal procedures which will be required
- the likely number, importance and effectiveness of meetings, letters, documents, phone calls and other such work
- the risk to you and to us in undertaking the work
- the priority which your legal work will require over our other work, especially if there is urgency.
In the end result, we will submit to you a written proposal for us to complete your legal work for a fixed price that we intend will be fair and reasonable all round.
This price will be disclosed ‘up front’ in a scoping document. This scoping document details:
- the work which will be undertaken
- when the work will be done
- who will do the work
- the benefit given and the value created for you or your business from our work
- the fixed price at which we are offering to do the work
- the assumptions on which we have based our pricing
- any work which is to be excluded from the scoped work, and payment arrangements.
Having considered our pricing proposal and after giving us ‘the green light’, we would then commence the work.
Sometimes during the course of acting for you, we might be required to do additional legal work which is plainly not included in the scoped work and which could not have been foreseen. While we do try very hard to maintain the original fixed price and we seriously avoid ‘scope creep’, sometimes such extra work is simply unavoidable. For example, your instructions may have changed or unknown issues may have been raised ‘out of the blue’ by the other lawyer.
When there is such extra work, we would undertake it at an agreed price or, if not agreed, then at a price calculated in accordance with either:
- the Practitioner Remuneration Order (as published by the Law Institute of Victoria) where the legal work is unrelated to Court or Tribunal proceedings or to a dispute with someone, or
- the relevant Court or Tribunal scale of costs (as published on the websites of the various Courts and Tribunals) where the legal work relates to Court or Tribunal proceedings or to a dispute.
We would always explain the extra work involved, the reason why it was done, how we have priced the extra work, and the benefit gained.
As a result, you will be invoiced by us for your legal work without there ever being any surprises.
This approach means that the pricing of your work by Sharrock Pitman Legal will always be:
- up front and certain
- within budget
- value adding
- risk free
- fair and reasonable all round.
When it comes to the worrying issue of paying for legal costs, that’s gotta be good news!
Something old….or something new?
As a law practice, we really do care because we are: