Publishing Your Firm's Fees - Turning threat into Opportunity
So the Legal Services Board has now approved the SRA’s requirement for solicitor’s firms to publish their price information for certain services on their websites, with a projected date for this being done by all solicitor’s firms by December 2018.
Now, I’m sure those solicitors who are reading this will have the same mixed reaction of bemusement and anger at the requirements, with some we’ve spoken to calling it a further attack on the profession. After all, it’s not like firms are selling double glazing or motor insurance, where there is little variation in product and comparisons can be direct. We’re also pretty sure there are some less polite comments on the subject…
Be all that as it may, the requirement is now upon the profession, and while December 2018 seems a long way away, firms with websites will need to consider how they can meet it.
And, yes, we’ve already heard it, “why not simply remove our website?” Well, while removing your firm’s website may be a quick way to get around the requirement, this does open the door to other firms or competitors to encroach upon your client base. And you can be certain of one thing; they will.
So onwards and upwards…
You’ll need to start by looking at which categories of law are going to have this information published. These are;
Services to individuals;
- The conveyance of residential real property or real estate which comprise:
- Freehold or leasehold sales or purchases; or
- Mortgages or re-mortgages;
- The collection and distribution of money, property and other assets belonging to a person following their death, where these are within the UK and the matters are not contested;
- The preparation and submission of immigration applications, excluding asylum applications;
- The provision of advice and representation at the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in relation to appeals against Home Office visa or immigration decisions, excluding asylum appeals;
- The provision of advice and representation at the Magistrates Court in relation to summary only road traffic offences dealt with at a single hearing;
- The provision of advice and representation to employees in relation to the bringing of claims before the Employment Tribunal against an employer for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal.
For services in relation to businesses, the requirements are:
- The provision of advice and representation to employers in relation to defending claims before the Employment Tribunal brought by an employee for unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal;
- Debt recovery up to the value of £100,000;
- The provision of advice and assistance and representation in relation to licensing applications for business premises.
Now that you can see what categories are required, you can consider your own practice and look at which law types in your service offering will need the information.
The SRA has said there will be guidance and templates on exactly what will need to be published, however a useful exercise to undertake now for any of the services on the list would be to analyse the fees over the last twelve months for them and see if it is possible to work out an average. It would also be good to understand where fees and corresponding work has varied, so that a budget based on the published fees, which will need to mirror the fees firm’s outline in the client care or terms of business letters, will be competitive while still allowing profitability…
If you’re a conveyancing or probate solicitor and you’d like to understand the requirements in more detail to help you prepare for this new requirement, we will be delivering a two hour training course on the subject aimed at Conveyancing and Probate solicitors at 14:00 on the 26th of September at our Abercynon offices.
See our course schedule for details on how to book.