Letter to the editor,
There is no doubt that many of the views expressed by Mr Chisholm (1 February 2010) are on the mark.
The value of a strong and respectful client relationship cannot be undervalued. That goes without saying!
However, any suggestion that value can only be demonstrated by adopting a fixed price billing method pegged to deliverables and outcomes is arguably over-simplistic for a complex industry such as the legal profession.
Clearly some matters lend themselves to an outcomes-based pricing approach such as conveyancing or contractual drafting. But lawyers are not tradespeople.
In fact, very often there is a disconnect between the client’s and firm’s understanding of ‘deliverables’ and what goes on behind the scene to achieve those ‘deliverables’.
If the matter is resolved in favor of the client there is less likely to be any querying of the invoice. However, if the client is not satisfied with the outcome, in many instances he or she will want a detailed account of what in fact was done on their behalf. In fact some will claim that the firm has ‘not delivered’.
And in the event of a substantial matter, even f the matter is successful, the client may well ask for an overview of the work undertaken and by who.
Transparency and accountability - not a handshake - are the hallmarks of a client centric firm. Surely clients are more ‘comfortable’ working with firms who are ‘comfortable’ giving sharing with them what was does when by whom if they wish to know.