In the past year, more than 70 per cent of lawyers have been asked by their clients to discount their fees, according to a recent survey.
According to legal and accounting software supplier Advanced Professional Solutions (APS), clients are putting the pressure on lawyers when it comes to fees, disbursements and cost-containment in general.
"We've heard a great deal about this from our legal and accounting clients and it's a strong matter of debate. This survey provides some science to that debate," said APS Group CEO Brian Armstrong.
The survey of more than 200 Australian legal and accountancy firms revealed that in the last 12 months, 38 per cent of lawyers have been asked by their clients to move to a fixed-fee agreed upfront and 63 per cent were asked to absorb disbursements, signifying the need amongst clients to control costs.
"Our discussions with our law firm clients have shown very clearly that their clients are increasingly asking them to absorb disbursements, with accountants also being asked to discount fees or agree to a fixed fee upfront - or all of the above," Armstrong said.
In terms of their billing preferences, 43 per cent of lawyers said they prefer value-based billing and 32 per cent prefer fixed-fee billing. When asked to forecast the method used by their firms in five years, lawyers said time-billing would still dominate.
Only 38 per cent of lawyers said they currently undertake fixed-fee work, compared to 65 per cent of accountants.