Costs remain the issue about which clients are most likely to complain, regardless of the type of work undertaken. They may not be something you are comfortable discussing, but being upfront about fees will pay dividends in the long run, both for you and for your clients.
Too often, lawyers avoid talking about money or, if asked directly by the client, become hesitant and evasive.
The practical consequences of not talking about money are considerable. They include:
• the client becoming frustrated or confused about likely costs;
• the work starting before costs are agreed;
• the different perceptions about what is covered and what is not;
• the client feels 'unsure' about service levels and how much s/he should budget;
• it causes later misunderstandings and problems with payment and level of fees.
Talking to clients about fees is complicated. To help navigate the issue this session will include information on:
- The regulatory context;
- Communication with clients;
- Managing expectations – a discussion of the best ways to talk to clients about costs, fixed fees, hourly rates, ‘unbundling’ where the client and lawyer divide work between them and combining legal aid with private paying work;
- Keeping clients happy;
- Awareness of the issues which can cause complaints;
- Assessment of risk;
- Dealing with complaints and good practice in complaints handling.
The seminar will be delivered by Vicky Ling, a consultant specialising in legal aid practice and a founder member of the Law Consultancy Network.