Understanding Fixed Fees
Fixed fee law firms are they a marketing myth?
WHAT TO EXPECT
So you were given a Fixed Fee for your legal work? Are you really sure? In the world of law caveats and exceptions are abound. One in particular is the area of conveyancing or property law. Buying or selling property is akin to buying or selling a second hand car. Your car will require too be of a certified legal standard. Defects or legal changes to the legal standard will require work, sometimes inexpensive but it can be very costly. Now let’s not confuse the costs for your lawyer with the costs of the work, documents, reports and government charges as both require to be paid. Well unless your lawyer has given you a fixed fee! In our experience you are as likely to find a motor garage to give you a fixed fee (Total Fee) to MOT and repair your car without examining it as you are to find a lawyer who will give you a fixed fee.
So, here we are stuck with the public who are obsessed with finding that elusive fixed fee. Like a good political sound bite or a marketing headline, it’s always quickly followed by caveats, conditions or exceptions. The usual is that you will be told that this fee and the charges are for a standard transaction. So what is a standard transaction? Is your view of standard the same as your lawyer? What happens if it’s not standard? So many questions and certainly no answers anywhere on your fixed fee quote.
In Summary We have found 3 types of legal fees
1. The fixed fee, subjects to exceptions.
2. The pay by the hour fee quote
3. The price list.
The first 2 are rather standard and there is a lot of information written about them. We have tried to highlight the need to check the exact wording of ANY claim of a fixed fee. Hourly rate (time on line) work is becoming less common but we have seen this combined in a fixed fee quote, to cover the extra work.
The third type of legal fee is not encounter often. The price list quote gives you the legal fee and then itemises the costs each piece of additional work, if required what it would cost. Many firms do not do this as they would rather you purchased on a headline cost, without detailing to you at the start the potential costs.
In our view we consider the price list fee quote to be the only fully transparent and fair legal quote, well unless you find that elusive fixed fee.