A new commercial law firm in Harrogate has launched with a fixed-fee product to support clients in conducting their own litigation as one of its core services.
In the latest bid to challenge the traditional hourly billing model, Towers Legal plans to roll this approach out to non-contentious work, and is also offering a fixed-fee ‘virtual’ in-house lawyer service.
They are all supported by a guarantee that clients will not be charged if certain service levels are not met.
Towers is headed by James Martin – formerly a partner and head of commercial litigation at Leeds firm McCormicks – and has been set up as the commercial law arm of Legal Development Partners Ltd, which also trades through private client firm Ashworth Law and debt collection practice Fortius Legal.
For litigation, it gives the option of Towers either taking full control of a matter or providing clients with the guidance, tools and training they need to run the matter themselves to keep costs down, with technical legal input from the firm only when required.
The latter packages offer four levels of service, ranging from silver to ‘platinum plus’. All include a free ‘How to win your legal dispute’ guide, a preliminary legal opinion on the case, partner-level control and supervision, and unlimited free telephone advice for calls of up to 30 minutes. They also provide a fixed number of hours of preliminary consultation or training in the legal process for up to four members of staff, and ‘use as you like professional time’, the length of which depends on which package is chosen.
The prices of these packages are published on the Towers website. For small claims, as an example, the silver package, which costs £650, offers up to two hours of ‘use as you like’ time; the platinum plus package costs £2,500 and includes up to 35 hours. At the other end of the scale, for claims worth £500,000 to £1m, the silver package is £3,200 for up to 10 hours, and the platinum plus provides up to 100 hours for £16,800.
Among Towers Legal’s six promises are that if it fails to respond to a client’s call or e-mail within 24 hours, the firm will not charge for dealing with that particular request. Also, if more than a month passes without the client being updated on their matter, they will gain an extra hour on their ‘use as you like’ allowance.
Mr Martin said: “Our primary aim is to address some of the key problems often associated with law firms, such as uncertainty, poor communication, lack of control and unnecessarily high fees. To do this, we are adopting some truly radical new practices that will set us apart from others in the legal field.
“We are getting away from the culture of clients being concerned about picking up the phone to discuss their legal issues, for fear of how much it might be costing them.”
He said even for large cases that require lawyers to manage them, the firm can help clients reduce costs by training their administrative staff to produce bundles, for example, rather than have trainees standing at a photocopier for hours.
Mr Martin acknowledged that it can be difficult for lawyers to fix fees, “but it’s not impossible”. He said: “There are lots of newer companies and entrepreneurs that are looking for something that gives them flexibility on cost.”