Welcome > Blog > Blog Posts > Transparency is coming to legal fees …
11th August, 2016
Our latest Guest Blog from LawyerFair, the on-line law services platform, reviews how pricing in the industry looks set to be revolutionised:
LawyerFair recently delivered a presentation to 80-100 business owners and opened with a simple question … “How many of you, when instructing lawyers for your business, had advanced knowledge of your fees?”
Remarkably, but perhaps not surprisingly, the show of hands was zero.
Not one business owner, in a room of relatively sophisticated and regular buyers of legal services, had forward visibility of costs on their legal fees. And this anecdotal experience of how lawyers still charge, has been endorsed by a recent report from the Centre for Policy Studies – The Price of Law – which accused law firms of “using a lack of transparency on fees to distort the free market in a way that creates inefficiencies and undermines the wider economy.”
The report continues “The high level of legal fees is an efficient drain on commerce. British industry is forced to suffer a deadweight loss as excessive amounts of time and money must be spent dealing with legal issues.”
Jim Diamond, former lawyer and author of The Price of Law, revealed in an article in the Daily Mail that firms typically bill in six minute units of time, and that “for typing ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and hitting ‘send’ on an email, the partner might count it as a six-minute time unit and bill £110 for 30 seconds’ work.”
To those who know how the traditional solicitors model works, this report is hardly a surprise. Law firms continue to measure success, by the growth of their hourly rate … an anachronistic charging model, that places all commercial risk on the shoulders of the buyer.
But, there are shifting sands in the legal market, and the era of guesswork surrounding expertise and cost is coming to an end.
We’re addressing some of these issues with my own platform at LawyerFair, where we pre-approve all panel lawyers and insist that quotes are fixed, but other services are emerging that help shine a light into this opaque market.
One particular service that’s starting to ruffle legal feathers is Premonition. Co-founded by a Brit, now based in Florida (Toby Unwin), the service utilises big data and Artificial Intelligence, to expose which Lawyers win the most cases, and in front of which Judges. It’s ground breaking transparency and, having already caused a stir in the US, it’s expanding into the UK and beyond.
Buyers of commercial legal services – from start up to general counsel – have suffered from a lack of transparency in legal services, but in this new era of legal procurement, a variety of services have emerged that have started to shift the balance of this industry from supply led, to demand led.
You might say that historically when it comes to fees, it’s the land of the blind where the one eyed lawyer is kind but …. in the future landscape of legal services, consumers with market intelligence will be King.
Written by Andrew Weaver, CEO & Co-Founder of LawyerFair
If you would like to compare legal fees, LawyerFair can do an audit of fees for free, as well as offer legal advice, so please do get in touch.