Legal Business Blogs

Legal fees: QualitySolicitors to abandon hourly rates in favour of fixed fees

QualitySolicitors (QS) has unveiled plans to abandon the hourly rate across its network of firms, offering fixed fees for all legal services including litigation.

The group, which has around 120 members across 200 locations, is to roll out the next phase of a pilot scheme which will see 15 of its firms stop charging by the hour, with the intention to roll out the model across the network by early 2014.

In what founder Craig Holt calls ‘a crucial shift in how firms offer legal services’, QS clients will be offered a free fact-finding meeting to scope out the instruction, with an upfront price guarantee safeguarded under the branded ‘QS Price Promise’.

According to Holt, the move has been prompted by the demands of clients and he said: ‘Above all else clients told us how much they dislike the open-ended, uncertain nature of charging by the hour and so we’ve worked incredibly hard to enable our firms to move away from this.’

While some UK firms have already moved away from hourly billing, it is an area lacking consistency and predictability for clients, particularly when it comes to litigation, where law firms have commonly claimed that it is difficult to accurately forecast costs.

Richard Allen, managing partner of QS Lockings, one of two firms which have been piloting the scheme since August, said: ‘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.’

Founded in 2008 by barrister and now president Holt and chief financial officer Saleem Arif, QS firms began rebranding under the QS banner in 2010, creating the first national chain of solicitors.

In July 2011 the progressive company expanded following a national partnership with high street stationary chain WH Smith, which saw QS open legal access points in the stores across the UK.

However, the tie-up came to an end this summer as QS prepared to launch its partnership with US online legal document provider LegalZoom, through which QS clients can access LegalZoom’s range of standardised online documentation.

At the same time, a management shake-up saw former CEO Holt take the role of president to head up a new research and development division, appointing SR Consulting management consultant Ian Wheeler to take over as CEO.

For further QualitySolicitors commentary see our guest post from Legal Futures editor Neil Rose, Guest blog: Do you heart QualitySolicitors?