Employment Law services from Human Law /
/ Home / About / Contact Us / Services / Testimonials / Ezine Archive /   / Search
  Click here to Search the Website

It is Not About The Hourly Rate - It is About Client Service

Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 9:33pm

The discussion about legal costs continues. Lord Jackson is due to publish his report later today on his proposals for re-shaping the legal costs environment.

Overall there has been some separate discussion about the solicitors hourly rate within some of the legal press and national press.

The solicitors' hourly rate has received criticism, not least of which because it can promote inefficiency. The central flaw is that it can encourage waste.

Nevertheless despite its flaws, the hourly rate will continue, not least of which because interactions with clients and opponents are unpredictable.

At Human Law Mediation, what we offer are a series of different blended fee plans and solutions.

At all points we offer estimates of projected fees. Due to the unpredictability of litigation in particular these are estimates; the key is consistent client engagement and keeping the client informed of his or her options and what to do. 

For certain legal work we charge an hourly rate on a conventional basis. As we have low over-heads, our fees are competitive. 

For mediation work, we charge a fixed fee with the possibilty of charging an additional hourly rate if aditionnal time is required.

For training work, we provide a fixed fee.

Certain clients who place a stronger emphasis on costs authorise a strict budget which is not exceeded without express prior authority.

So, we offer a series of options depending on the client, the circumstances of the case and the work required. 

However, is this discussion really THAT important?

As a lawyer, mediator and trainer the more I have done this work, the more I have realised that what the client wants above cost control and competence is exceptional client service and the ability to be authentic with the client.

But where do we go for inspiration in our quest to serve our clients?

We can look outside to some of the great work being done on blogs. One of the best law blogs is written by my friend Dan Hull, of What About Clients?

He asks:

  • True service to clients: are we delivering this and, if we aren't, can we talk about why?
  • Do we lawyers have a “we versus them” or adversarial mentality about clients when our main focus should be doing the job we promised to do and protecting clients from third parties or bad events -- the real “them” -- which would harm our clients?
  • Has lawyer camaraderie evolved into such clubiness that we have lost sight of the client’s primacy?
  • Do we regularly lie to and slight our clients? (Professionally, is that really any different than cheating on our spouses?)
  • Are there built-in barriers which prevent true service to the client? (Are contingency fee arrangements with clients a built-in conflict of interest which can never be justified -- even in the name of “access to the court system?” When we represent insurance companies, are we fair to the real clients -- the insureds?
  • Will we ever put the interests of the insureds first?)
  • Are lawyer jokes funny to us because they sound like the truth?
  • Has the overpopulation of markets with lawyers forced us into a free-for-all?
  • Do many of us wind up selling clients short because we are disillusioned or burned out?

These are fundamental and deep questions.

Beyond looking externally, we should look to ourselves.

What exactly are we trying to do as lawyers and mediators? What brought us into this role? Now that we are here - What can we do to help?

These are some of the other questions I ask myself as I search for the best outcomes be the parties lawyers, lay-clients or recepients of training. 

Justin Patten Solicitor, Mediator and Trainer 

» Categories: Litigation
Add to: Digg Add to: Del.icio.us Add to: StumbleUpon Add to: Furl Add to: Google

2 Comments

JL Davidson | January 15, 2010, 9:31pm
the charge that a contingent fee is a conflict is patently false. Both the lawyer and the client have an equal stake in the outcome of the case. What you likely object to is that good contigency fee lawyers perform too well for their clients, securing just compensation that your clients don't want to pay....
Craig | March 15, 2010, 10:46am
How can a contigency fee be a conflict? All it does is ensure that the lawyer concerned actually has to work for his client and win rather than sit on his/her butt knowing he/she will get paid no matter what the outcome. It is akin to commission paid sales: those who work hard and treat their clients properly get well paid and stay in the industry. Those who don't, go away....

Leave a Comment

Your Name  
Email Address  
(kept hidden)
Website
(optional)
Comment  
Human Validation Check  
What is 19 - 5 ? Answer

Fixed-Fee

Blog Posts By Date

/
All Testimonials     
/

Subscribe to our E-Zine

Subscribe to our Ezine
Latest Human Law Blog Posts Latest Human Law Blog Posts
    ©2014 Human Law. Human Law. 1B Hallingbury Road, Bishops Stortford, Herts, CM23 5JY. Telephone: 0844 800 3249 Privacy Policy  |  Website: Zarr    
Human Law is a law firm registered in England and Wales and authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority under registered number 596152