Flat fee or hourly billing for Lawyers. The Pros and Cons

Flat fee or hourly billing for Lawyers. The Pros and Cons

12-02-2020

Lawyers in America, are part of one of the best paid professions in the world. As we acknowledge that lawyers are the backbone of law implementation, it leads us to the reason why lawyers must be paid right. 

If you just graduated law school or you are a lawyer who wants to maximize your profitability in providing your services, then it is very important for you to understand the payment schemes and pricing structure that you encounter and may encounter in the future. Law studies are challenging and as you finish your law studies, earning from this profession is also a practical way for you to acquire the return of your investment.

Studying law is an investment not just mentally but holistically. For many law students and graduates of law have opted to have educational loans that need to be paid back after they graduate.

For new lawyers, as you kick-start your legal career, let us understand the terms on the payment schemes that you can demand for or can be asked from you. Pricing schemes can usually be either flat fee or hourly billing.

What is Flat Fee for a Lawyer?

Flat fee can be considered as a linear rate. The flat rate price structure helps you be paid by your clients for a single fixed fee for the agreed legal service that you have rendered. The flat fee pricing structure does not depend on the time of use nor the load of work. 

The flat fee is like a package pricing scheme for the term of the legal service. There are lawyers who take this pricing for their projects for it helps them boost the value that they give to the service that they have rendered. On the other hand, we also have an hourly billing for a lawyer, as discussed below: 

What is Hourly Billing for Lawyer?

Hourly billing is one of the most common billing methods, not just in the field of law but also across other service industries. If you are a lawyer or a Juris Doctor who prefers to be paid based on the number of hours that you have rendered, then this pricing scheme is the best for you to have in your law services. 

There are a lot of lawyers who prefer this kind of pricing structure for it helps them maximize their time and profitability in being able to be paid right.

The Pros and Cons

1. Flat Fee

Pros:

• Flat fee gives you the opportunity to have a value-based pricing. 

• It’s a favourable pricing for clients for it’s a single fixed fee where it gives clients the opportunity to prepare and budget payment for your service.

• You can be paid full and for additional tasks done, you no longer need to chase clients for additional fee for it is already agreed prior to the service.

Cons:

• It have limited scope. Lawyers do not encourage this pricing structure when you are negotiating for a settlement and for cases with financial charges and a lot of additional fees.

• Be open for unexpected additional work. You need to be critical in establishing the fixed price and analyse all possible work that needs to be implemented.

• It can demotivate lawyers that have not calculated all the extra work that needs to be done.

Flat fees pricing can be easy to quote. However, as you establish you fixed rate you need to be rational in all aspects that you need to do. There are lawyers who use this pricing scheme for run-of-the-mill cases where there are less special tasks that needs to be implemented such as notary or consultation that applies to for lawyers with this eligibility.

If you are a lawyer who encounters a client that seeks for a law service with great predictability and lesser risk of additional work, then this pricing structure is the best for you. You just need to always remember that in quoting the fixed price, you need to be critical and accountable. 

2. Hourly Billing

Pros:

• You get paid with the worth of your professional service. As you set your hourly rate, it reflects your expertise. Lawyers with masters in law can also maximize their profitability with this. 

• Lesser risk and you can be paid efficiently based on the work that you have done. 

• You are paid exactly with your professional service.  In providing services, there can be unexpected tasks but once you are paid on an hourly basis, the task can still be credited and you are paid right.

Cons: 

• There’s a possibility that you will chase clients for the service payment. Some clients forget their responsibility of paying you while there are also others who do not have enough money to pay you. In becoming a lawyer, cases like this can happen.

• There are low chances of earning incentives from your clients.

• Uncertainty of billing is faced by your clients since the pricing will based on the hours that you have rendered in working.

There are lawyers who prefer to have an hourly billing for it helps them maximize their time and profitability to the quality of law service that they have rendered to their clients. 

If you are also hold a masters of law and other further studies to supplement your law degree, the hourly rate is favourable for you since it can help you be paid with the worth of your service. Additional tasks will no longer be a problem for you since you are paid to on an hourly basis for all the work that you have done. 

How to maximize your potential as a lawyer?

•Learn to Give Back First

As you live out your profession in becoming a lawyer, you need to also not just think of profitability but to also learn to give back to people. Help people and have a heart to settle disputes as if you are on the shoes of your clients. This giving back mindset is also dominantly applicable for new lawyers.

• Keep an Excellent Reputation

Always be mindful of your actions but do not take pressure on it. Enjoy your profession in becoming a lawyer in a way that you would love to help your clients. As you live out your profession with passion, it will surely impact your clients that will help you keep an excellent reputation in becoming an excellent lawyer.

• Use your Skills to Add Value

Think like you are a business owner and be on the shoes of your clients who seek for your help. In thinking as a business owner, make sure that the pricing that you have is favourable and justifiable especially if you are a new lawyer. 

Add value to your law service as you apply all the skills that you have. If you are a millennial lawyer, you can apply your technological skills in promoting your services or also use your passion to boost your value as a lawyer. 

If you are passionate in communicating with people, use your communication skills to make sure that your clients understand you and the case that they are encountering. As you maximize your potential as a lawyer, give value to the work that you provide and make sure that it is of your best.

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