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Firm tells clients to "write your own bills"

Firm tells clients to "write your own bills"

The lawyers at Sydney firm Turtons have taken a gamble on their own abilities and told clients to rate the work they do by adjusting their legal bills up or down depending on the service. The…

The lawyers at Sydney firm Turtons have taken a gamble on their own abilities and told clients to rate the work they do by adjusting their legal bills up or down depending on the service.

The 100-year old firm of four solicitors, as well as a number of support staff, launched the new service to clients on 1 July, informing clients they will continue to receive their regular invoices, but with the added option of being able to change the final figure - aside from out-of-pocket expenses.

Greg Henry, one of two principals with the firm, told Lawyers Weekly the move is merely formalising an agreement the firm already has with many of its long-term clients.

"We're seeing so many new firms trying to be innovative and we thought, 'we actually have something genuinely different to offer, so let's just make a go of it and see what we can do'."

Henry added that the move is about enhancing the value of the client/lawyer relationship, building trust and backing their own abilities. "This is probably the biggest sign that we have confidence in our own abilities that we can make," Henry said.

And Henry is not concerned about the risks involved in opening an opportunity for clients to adjust their bills downwards. In fact, he's already been informed by one client that he can expect the bills to go the other way.

"For us, it's all the things you should be doing if you're good at business anyway - like picking your clients carefully, managing your client's expectations about how much things are going to cost, how much the market is going to demand for that service and then actually delivering on what you say you're going to deliver. We don't see much risk when you look at it that way."

As well as adjustable bills, Henry added that all aspects of Turtons have been scrutinised to ensure everything is geared towards delivering client value. To encourage staff, all employees have recently become shareholders of the firm, regardless of their position. "When you combine the employee share scheme with the pricing model, you see that everyone has a very personal interest in ensuring each client receives the best possible service," said Henry.

The move is gaining attention from existing clients, but Henry said he hopes it may also assist in attracting new clients to the firm. "We don't have ambitions to be the next big thing, but we would like to be a little bit bigger than we are at the moment," he said.

"I think I'd be concerned though if the billing model was the only thing that attracted people to us, because we think it's actually more about the service we're offering, rather than the way we're charging for it."

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