Perth based Lavan Legal has moved to create a significant point of difference from national law firms by commencing a long-term project to replace billable hours with a fully fixed-price model.
Since 1 July, the firm has established a pricing committee representing different practice groups who together consider the pricing on all matters over a particular cost threshold.
This sees lawyers apply for consideration and approval by the committee of the estimate or fixed price of their matters, as well as its original scope.
Dean Hely, a partner with the firm who drove much of the change, said that Lavan Legal is aiming to move away from time-based billing in order to prove its innovation credentials and provide a compelling point of difference between it and national law firms operating in the Western Australian market.
Hely said establishing the committee is the first step for the firm in determining exactly how it is pricing matters, the mistakes being made, the risks involved and getting more people involved in the pricing process.
While submitting pricing on matters to the committee is still voluntary for fee-earners, Hely said the process has been well received, with the possibility of eliminating timesheets providing some much needed encouragement for lawyers to participate.
"You do get used to timesheets but the thought of not having timesheets is like the lawyer's utopia," he said.
The firm will evaluate the work of the pricing committee after six months, before approaching more clients about moving their work to fixed-based pricing.
But despite the firm aiming to progressively move away from time-based billing, Hely confirmed that it will still run timesheets "until our project management skills are sufficiently developed".
As such, Hely said the firm is exploring options around project management training in order to ensure lawyers can better manage their matters in accordance with how they are originally scoped.