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Alternative Billing. A Win-Win Legal Strategy

Want to stop paying those hefty fees to lawyers? It’s very simple: Look into Alternative Legal Billing

Legal Billing has come a long way from the very bland one liner just stating legal services rendered and the bill. The shock of that single amount has led the legal fraternity to becoming more forthcoming with their bill breakdown. Clients now demand detailed invoices and this has led to the use of refined billing software to meet this need. Competition amongst lawyers and the services they offer have led to some changes in their billing techniques. Although, it seems that most lawyers still only charge an hourly rate. As much as lawyers are still charging in a traditional way, small businesses can always ask and negotiate for alternate billing options, especially with a small business attorney. These billing options include:

  • Project billing for repetitive matters
  • Questions to go through with your legal representatives
  • Attorney’s experience in business law
  • Is the attorney’s advice in plain English or do they use above average legal terms?
  • Is there good “synergy” between you and the attorney?
  • How do you rate the attorney’s ethics, principles and goals?
  • What’s the attorney’s past performance with other businesses similar to yours?

It is best to consider a flat-rate method of charging, also known as project billing, if your legal needs are copious and ongoing. Requesting a cap on the rate for large research projects involving several repetitive tasks with a fair amount of predictability might be the best route. Comparing quotes for capped and uncapped billing for legal work is advised. Always shop around for legal help so that you get the right and affordable help.

Outcomes-based options

Contingency fees are fees that are only payable based on the results and performance of your legal counsel.  The expectations of an outcome make the results-based option the most efficient billing method. There can be an incentive on a percentage of money won or saved in trial. A defendant in a case where the plaintiff has a strong shot at a $1 million settlement can negotiate a flat fee if the case goes to trial, plus a bonus if the plaintiff ends up getting less than $1 million. With a plaintiff with a case worth between $1 and $2 million, it might be best to negotiate services for a flat fee plus a percentage of any settlement over $1 million. This way of billing is sharing the risk and can work well with both flat fee and reduced hourly fee arrangements. You can ask your contract litigation attorney which options they are willing to use.

Multidimensional tasks

If one might need legal work that involves complex legal areas, then using blended hourly fees might be beneficial. How this works is the firm calculates in advance an “average” rate based on the anticipated time each attorney spends on the matter. There is dual value in this arrangement as it assist in defining responsibility in a project and it provides a fair price schedule for the client, who avoids paying a senior partner’s hourly rate for research that could be conducted by a junior associate.

Legal “Insurance”

Firms who do not have their own legal services can draw up an agreement with a law firm stating that for a certain monthly fee, they are expected to provide a prearranged set of legal services.

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