A survey of lawyers’ fixed fees conducted earlier this year has uncovered lawyers earning more than $1,000.00 per hour for work done on a fixed-fee basis.
The survey was sponsored by Smarter Drafter, an advanced automation tool for law firms, to determine what lawyers actually charge for their fixed-fee services. More than 400 law firms participated in the survey.
The survey was prompted by the industry-wide shift to fixed pricing: a shift driven by pressure from clients who are increasingly unwilling to allow lawyers continue charging by the hour. In the survey, lawyers reported the range of fees they charge for particular services and the time they take to deliver those services.
Dividing the fees charged by the hours taken to deliver the service yielded some surprising results. One CBD Law firm charges $1,950.00 ex GST for an estate planning package requiring 2 hours of work, an equivalent hourly rate of $975.00 ex GST per hour. Another firm charges $250.00 for creating a non-disclosure agreement, which they report takes only 15 minutes – that’s a $750.00 ex GST equivalent hourly rate.
David Lipworth, Managing Director at Smarter Drafter (the survey’s sponsor) said: “These incredible hourly rates are possible because the behind-the-scenes work that lawyers used to do is now being done by automation technology. Lawyers using Smarter Drafter can produce, in just 15 minutes, documents that used to take them a whole day or even multiple days of work.”
So the time taken to do the work has reduced dramatically, but are lawyers passing the cost savings on to clients?
Managing Director at Smarter Drafter, David Lipworth, said: “Some lawyers continue to charge the same fees, even as they slash the time it takes to do the work. Their equivalent hourly rate is very high. Others are choosing to pass on the benefits of automation, making their services accessible to clients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s a win/win because both volumes and profit margins go up for the lawyers, even as prices go down for clients.”
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