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Hourly Rate Should Be Exception Rather Than Rule For Clients

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

I was reading in the Times this week an article about the level of charges made by law firms to their clients and particularly about the hourly rate is applied to clients.

I have to say the bulk of law firms still charge the hourly rate and really this is a just a one way ticket to financial oblivion.(E.g every minute you spend is charged to the client etc and the client has unpredictability about the level of fees). Given increased competition in the legal sector I cannot see how this is sustainable for law firms but I suppose that is not my problem. 

Pioneers there are within the legal sector such as the family solicitors Woolley and Co who offer fixed fees; Which? whom I work for offer an excellent DIY legal service which is a fraction of the traditional law firms though they cannot look at documents.

On occasions it is perfectly justifiable to charge an hourly rate such as when I was involved in some intense negotiations when the emphasis was on getting the complex deal as quickly as possible. This was necessary as my time and energy was the integral factor in getting the deal done.

But this should be the exception not the rule.

Generally it is much better to offer the client either a fixed fee if you can project the costs, a capped fee to limit this for the client experience or a fixed monthly fee if it is not clear cut when the matter will finish.

Actually I believe that many lawyers/ firms simply do not have the confidence to agree a flat fee (whatever that is) because they lack the belief to predict how much is required and they shift the risk to the client.


The advantage of a fixed fee/monthly retainer is that everyone knows where they stand, risks are shared between the lawyer/client. On occasions you may have to deal with peaks and troughs  yet it enhances the working relationship. I have confidence in my service and with experience you should know what is required and that must include pricing.