Stopping the Clock – Fixed Fee Billing
We started Catalyst, in part, to experiment with innovations in law practice. We want to practice law in ways that are better for clients and better for the lawyers serving them. In that spirit, as of January 1, 2017, we are stopping the billable hour clock and transitioning to fixed-fee billing arrangements for most estate planning matters.
Why are we doing this?
First and foremost, we want all our business practices to align with our dedication to excellent client service, and recent research indicates that clients strongly prefer fixed fee billing. Understandably, being able to predict the final amount billed gives clients great peace of mind. It also allows clients to budget their spending on legal fees.
Secondly, we do not want to give our clients an incentive not to call us, fearful that the clock starts ticking the moment we pick up the phone. To provide the best service, we need to know what is happening with your case!
Finally, it turns out we like fixed fees better too. Being able to offer services on a fixed fee basis allows us to streamline our billing process – no more time spent editing invoices. As a bonus, it has encouraged us to experiment with workflow management systems, which has helped us become more efficient and team-oriented.
So, how does it work?
Inspired by tech products, we have determined a base price for a simple Will or trust plan, with variations depending on whether we are serving a single client or a couple. From that base price, clients can add on “features” depending on their individual circumstances and needs.
In our initial meeting with clients, we review the pricing sheet together, and determine which features will be most appropriate or desired. Approximately half of the fee is collected as a retainer, with the balance due in one or two installments when clients sign their documents.
We hope that offering fixed fees for estate planning matters will help our clients feel good about the services we provide. In time, we expect to extend the fixed fee billing model to other types of engagements, such as business formation and non-profit formation services.
To get more information on our fixed fee estate planning services, please call the office at 503-207-1711.