Billing practices

What sets GANTT LEGAL apart from all of its competitors is its fee structure.

Most of GANTT LEGAL's fees are fixed fees agreed in advance with the client.

By comparison, almost all of GANTT LEGAL's competitors charge their clients according to a $/hour rate - known as time-based billing.

Where GANTT LEGAL has not agreed fixed fees in advance with a client, GANTT LEGAL will charge at a $/hour rate that is equivalent to the hourly rate of the consultant referring the work to GANTT LEGAL.

 

Advice work

Advice work is the giving of a legal opinion on a question asked by the client.

This may be given orally or in writing, to suit the needs or requirements of the client. 

The provision of oral advice is significantly cheaper, because documenting advice in writing can be a time-consuming undertaking. 

All fees charged by GANTT LEGAL for advice work are fixed fees agreed in advance with the client.

We can confidently agree to fixed fees because we usually have a fair idea what the answer to a legal question is, or is likely to be, very early in the client engagement.  This significantly assists us in identifying the likely time involved to get to the bottom of the client's query.

 

Litigious work

Litigious work is inherently uncertain in terms of scale and duration.

In litigation, a client has an opponent who is actively opposed to what the client is trying to achieve.   

As in competitive sport, your opponent may play by the rules, or may repeatedly break the rules.  

Sanctions against your opponent for breaking the rules may not necessarily restore you to the position you would have been in if the rules had not been broken.

Your opponent may engage in deliberately frustrating play to wear down your resolve and soak up your resources.

Or they may give up early and submit to your wishes. 

And the actions or omissions of your opponent do not necessarily have any connection with the merits of your position.  Even if you have the most meritorious of cases, your opponent may still wish to 'game the system', to use the rules of the system to waste your resources, to obfuscate, and to frustrate you achieving your goal.

Conversely, the resolve of, and resources available to, your opponent are generally unknown, or cannot be estimated until well into the litigation.  

This makes it very difficult to provide estimates to clients about the cost of litigation. 

In litigation, we always recommend our clients adopt a posture of efficient strength, and that they act commercially.

In terms of strength - do not act timidly.  Present to your opponent as strong and determined - not weak and grovelling. 

In terms of efficiency - act expeditiously and assertively.  Don't waste your time or effort, and don't allow your opponent to waste your time or effort.  

To act commercially is to assess the best and worst possible outcomes, and the cost of engagement in litigation both for short and long periods.  Even the most meritorious of cases does not justify engaging in litigation if the cost of the litigation, even if small, renders a project commercially nonviable.  Conversely, borderline cases may warrant 100% commitment to the litigation process, irrespective of cost, because the rewards for winning or losses for failure are so significant.

In litigation, subtle and careful strategic thinking is required at every stage of the case as more information comes to light.  Experience and wisdom are invaluable in litigation.

Against that background of strength, efficiency, and commercialism, a means of managing a client's risk in litigation is to break down the work involved into components, and to charge fixed fees agreed in advance with the client for those components.

The lawyer is incentivised to do the work efficiently, to use technology, to create systems, and to delegate easy work to lower paid staff.

'Blow-outs' in time spent are the lawyer's risk. 

The agreement of fixed fees in advance makes it much easier for the client to make decisions and to chart a course in any litigation knowing what the costs for a component of work are going to be.

 

A warning about time-based billing

The estimate of fees given by a lawyer using time based billing is not fixed.

The fees may be higher or lower than the estimate.

There is no incentive for the lawyer to be efficient.  

Lawyers are incentivised to be inefficient.

How efficient is the lawyer doing the work?  

Does the lawyer delegate easy work to lower paid staff?

Has the lawyer embraced technology? Some lawyers in this jurisdiction still hand-write their letters and Court documents for typing.

Who will be doing the work?  The headline rate for a partner is less important if 80% of the work will be done by an employed solicitor.  The employed solicitor will not be as quick and efficient as the more experienced partner. What is the rate of the employed solicitor and how does this compare to the partner's higher rate and higher level of efficiency.  A warning flag for any potential client is a law firm with a high employed solicitor to partner ratio.

 

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