What Do We Want? Fairer Legal Fees: When do We Want Them? Now!
- AuthorPaul Hajek
If ever Adam Sampson, the Chief Legal Ombudsman, took to the streets around Chancery Lane with his placards and megaphone you would no doubt hear those refrains.
The Legal Ombudsman is the body in charge of dealing with unresolved legal complaints with law firms from the public. Once all lines of internal complaints procedures have been exhausted, that is.
And, the Legal Ombudsman has been pretty hard hitting in his comments in recent weeks!
Adopt Fairer Pricing or Perish
A report by the Legal Ombudsman published at the beginning of March, notes that almost 25% of the 90,000 complaints received each year by the Ombudsman were about legal bills - in old money that's about 22,500 law firm clients unhappy with what they have been charged by their lawyers.
The report went even as far as to suggest, that if law firms did not adopt fairer pricing, some law firms may even go out of business. Why would that be?
Changing Legal Landscape
It is perhaps, no coincidence, that Alternative Business Structures (ABS), which will be able to offer legal services alongside traditional law firms, are ready for imminent launch.
A timely shot across the boughs for errant law firms to get their act in order?
Adam Sampson said "What we are seeing now are market changes forcing lawyers to face the possibility that their traditional view of how they go about their daily work may have to undergo a fundamental change"
What to Expect from Solicitors
The underlying point of the report (A summary of the report can be viewed by clicking here ) is a valid one. Fee transparency should be paramount for all law firms.
The Legal Ombudsman gives guidance on its website to both law firms on how to avoid a complaint, and for clients (although the Legal Ombudsman prefers to use the term, consumers) on what questions to ask at the outset.
The Clutton Cox Approach
It may come as no surprise that Clutton Cox already gives guidance on how to choose the right solicitor. We have asked the questions for you in this blog post " 25 Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing Your Conveyancing Solicitor" and "Can your Conveyancing Solicitor Walk the Walk or Just Talk the Talk" here
Fixed Fee Guarantee with No Hidden Extras
At Clutton Cox, we always provide a fixed fee guarantee with no hidden extras - we've done so since I became a partner here in 1985, over 27 years ago
No surprise that in that time have we have not received any complaints about what we have charged.
But, then again that is just one way we can differentiate what we do for our clients.
For example, we have just started our "Ask the Owl" (clue: our logo) service; just email us with "Ask the Owl" in the headline bar and we'll get right back to you with an answer or point you in the right direction to get a suitable answer.
You Can't Say Fairer Than That Then
Clutton Cox has always believed in fair pricing and has been charging fixed fees in Conveyancing for the last 30 years.
I am reminded of the story of the man who went to his Doctor and informed him that he couldn't pronounce "F" "T" or "H".
The Doctor replied: -
"Well, You Can't Say Fairer Than That Then"