Holt: it’s not our approach to ‘mandate’ things with our firms

QualitySolicitors is to launch the ‘QS Price Promise’ that could see all 120 member firms ditch hourly billing early next year, it announced today.

After an initial pilot with two firms since August, this month a second pilot phase begins with 15 firms stopping hourly charging as the network bids to become “the first consumer legal service to offer fixed fees for all legal services – including litigation”.

There will be three levels of fixed fees:

  • Nationally priced ‘menu’ fee work, where a national price is advertised online for a legal service. For example, QS recently launched an ‘Ask the legal expert’ service for £99 (including VAT) for 45 minutes of in-person advice anywhere in the country;
  • Locally priced menu fee work, where individual firms set their pricing which is displayed in advance; and
  • Agreed fee work, where a price is set once the firm knows more about the service required.

However, member firms will not be forced to adopt the price promise. QS founder and chairman Craig Holt told Legal Futures: “We obviously hope to work towards universal adoption and our consultation has shown that firms overwhelmingly support the development, but it’s not our approach to ‘mandate’ things with our firms – we work and implement together on innovation, as we did with Saturday opening, for example.”

Richard Allen, managing partner of QualitySolicitors Lockings, one of original two pilot firms, said his firm had already been moving in this direction but was able to do so more quickly by working with QS. “We have received a very positive response from our clients with a typical comment being that this offer reduces the concerns they have about contacting a solicitor.

“The support provided by QualitySolicitors both in assisting with process mapping, data collection and its analysis, as well as establishing a forum within which the development of the project can be discussed with other firms is invaluable.”

Tammy Parnell of QualitySolicitors Clapham & Collinge, one of the pilot firms starting this month, added: “The consumer research undertaken by QS has demonstrated how important this is to clients. It isn’t easy and involves careful quoting and phasing of more complex work but we’re excited by the opportunity this – and other developments in the pipeline with QS – presents to make us even more competitive locally”.

Mr Holt said the network has now settled on a “very clear direction for the brand, focused on using technology, process expertise and innovation to materially evolving how legal services are provided”.

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    Readers Comments

  • Hourly rates are a thing of the past and many firms have moved / are moving to fixed fees.

    Clients want some certainty about fees and with the level of competition in the marketplace, this is understandable.

    We have many legal firm clients who are seeking advice & assistance from us on this important & inevitable modern day change in the legal profession.

  • Not quite the way it was reported in The Gazette last night, but an interesting development nonetheless.

    Whether it will be a game changer depends on what other steps they take to change working practices to make the model work profitably for the firms and attractively for their clients.

    This is discussed further in the above blog.

  • Quality Solicitors are reacting (albeit rather late) to customer needs. Compare Legal Costs launched to give buyers access to fixed cost legal services and we have firms across the UK doing just that. The Co-op, Riverview and now Quality Solicitors have adopted a fixed costs strategy. Who next? Which firms are going to risk playing catch up? We have said this before in many forums, the new competition will force change which will kill the hourly rate. Fixed cost will be a USP for early adopters.
    Michael Welsh
    Founder Compare Legal Costs


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