One of the most sensitive or concerning issues that people have when they wish to engage a lawyer to represent them is the matter of legal costs or legal fees. This is a justified concern because most people generally engage a law firm to act for them when they are often in a position of vulnerability, distress and where they may have to outlay some money for legal fees which they had previously not anticipated or budgeted for.
Certainly over the years lawyers have gained an unfortunate reputation for being overpriced and expensive however the real stigma comes about due to the fact that many people find themselves in an unwanted position when they need to engage a lawyer to act for them. Naturally engaging a law firm or lawyer to act for you will cost money however what you should know is that many of the nightmare stories you hear about exorbitant legal costs are very much avoidable.
It certainly does not help put people at ease when they hear nightmare stories about people who have been charged extraordinarily large amounts of money in relation to their legal costs and in some cases these people can feel ripped off especially if the outcome is not to their liking of they have not been fully informed of the potential legal costs involved from the outset of the matter.
We aim to avoid such a nightmare situation where people unexpectedly receive high legal bills or hidden costs and charges which can come as a massive surprise.
Ultimately what we aim to do is keep you fully informed from the beginning of your matter of exactly how much money you will be in for and the way in which we intend to quantify the legal costs for your matter.
Obviously some circumstances can arise where unforeseen issues occur within a legal proceedings and therefore some costs can be increased however we seek to anticipate every fork in the road that could potentially occur and keep you fully informed of all of these potential issues from the outset of your matter.
We are able to do this through several different legal cost billing styles.
Fixed Fee Billing System
For many of our matters we use a fixed fee billing system which basically means that we provide our clients with a one off fee for the completion of the entire matter right through until it is finalised.
Basically what this does is that it takes away the whole guessing game of what the client can expect to pay for us to represent them on a legal matter of theirs. We do not use a fixed fee billing system on all of our legal matters but we certainly try to use this billing system where ever we can especially in relation to legal matters where through our experience we know and understand exactly how much work will need to be prepared for the entirety of the matter.
We like to use a fixed fee billing system on most of our criminal and traffic matters where a plea of guilty has been entered. We also will consider using a fixed fee billing system on criminal and traffic matters that are defended however this will all depend on the complexity and length of time that it will take to run the case.
We also prefer to use the fixed fee billing system in preparing formal documents for our clients and this can be in the area of commercial and business contracts or agreements, wills and estate documents and many other types of formal legal documents that you may require from an experienced solicitor.
Generally we will sit down with you at the beginning of the matter and explain to you exactly what our fix fee costs will be for us to represent you, provide you with professional legal advice and/or prepare documents for you on your legal matter.
If you are satisfied with the fixed fee amount that we quote to you then we will prepare a costs and disclosure agreement which will set out exactly what the terms and conditions of the client/lawyer relationship will be. We will also provide you with an invoice reflecting the fixed fee amount that we have quoted to you in order to complete your matter.
In some cases we will require partial payment at the beginning of the matter or at different stages throughout the running of your legal matter. However, in most cases we will simply require full and final payment of the fixed fee amount prior to the completion of your legal matter.
In most cases we actually prefer to use a fixed fee billing system and the reason is because our client is fully aware of the amount of money that they will need in order for us to run their legal matter for them. This really does take the guessing game out of the equation and it provides our client with a great deal of certainty in relation to how much costs it will take for them to have us run their legal matter for them. Clients will not need to calculate how much time the lawyer has spent on their case, how many phone calls they have had, how many emails they have sent and received from their lawyer, how much photocopying they have done on their case or how much travel time they have spent on the matter instead the fixed fee will cover all of the work done on the running of the legal matter.
The only disclaimer that we should disclose to you is that the client will be liable for any significant disbursements that are incurred throughout the running of the matter such as the filing of legal documents or engaging a barrister for highly complex legal hearings. However, from the outset we will make our clients completely aware of any potential disbursements that may arise throughout the running of their matter.
Staged Fee Billing System
We also offer to our clients a staged fee billing system on particular matters whereby a variety of different steps need to be taken on a particular matter. But more importantly we like to use a staged fee billing system where the direction of a legal case could take many twists and turns throughout the running of the matter.
From the outset we like to anticipate all the potential steps that could possibly occur throughout the running of the matter and for this reason we provide you with estimate quote of how much it will cost you to reach each particular stage throughout the running of the case.
Often in a highly complex litigation matters or criminal matters unexpected issues in a legal case can arise. We do our very best to anticipate these issues however if unexpected issues do arise then we will sit down with the client and do our very best to advise them of the costs that are going to be involved at each stage throughout the matter.
Often in running complex legal matters it can be almost impossible to anticipate every twist and turn that will pop up in the running of the case. However, our policy is to advise you as soon as practically possible of any unexpected issues and costs that will be incurred throughout the course of the matter.
Hourly Rate Billing System
For large and complex legal proceedings we generally engage an hourly rate billing system. With this system we advise you from the outset as to what costs our firm will charge you on an hourly basis for work done on your matter. To be more specific when we use this hourly rate billing system we will charge you on a 6 minute incremental basis.
So what that means is that for every 6 minutes that we spend on your matter we consider that one unit of time. This means that there are 10 units in every hour worked at 6 minute increments. So if we advise you from the outset of your matter that we will charge you on an hourly basis of $300 per hour plus GST then practically what this means is that for every unit worked it will cost you $30 plus GST. For example if the legal charge out rate is $300 per hour plus GST and we spend half an hour on your natter then that equals 5 units which equates to $150 plus GST.
If we arrange to charge you using the hourly rate billing system then we are obliged to provide you with a comprehensive and complete itemised account of all time and units completed on your matter. This will provide you with a very detailed run down of every bit of time and work undertaken on your particular legal matter.
Our firm policy is to minimise any unnecessary costs to our client and wherever possible we will seek to keep costs at a minimum.