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With the Virtual Pricing Director Pricing Espresso® we aim to bring you your pricing 'shot' - some of the most interesting, thought-provoking and informative material we can find globally which will be of interest, relevance and help to you in your firms' pricing challenges.


Pricing for law firms

Pricing can't be many lawyers who enjoy negotiating fees or taking calls from unhappy clients who have just looked at their fee note. Pricing and price discussions tend to feel like problems, to be avoided as far as possible.

At the same time, maximising fee income is clearly critical to the success of the firm – and of individual partners and associates, whose status and career prospects are closely linked to the income they generate.

The days when lawyers could rely on working on an hourly rate, increasing year on year, are fast disappearing. A more sophisticated approach to pricing helps you win new clients, strengthens relationships and builds your reputation for offering good value. Read more...

Want Your Lawyers To Stay Put? Value Them for Their Skill, Not Billing Habits

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Big Law attorneys are among the most stressed and least happy in the profession, according to a recent survey of nearly 2,000 lawyers in California and Washington, D.C.

Two years ago, lawyer and mental health consultant Patrick Krill set out to test a hypothesis: Is the commodification of the legal field, such that it looks more like big business than a profession, tied to deteriorating mental and physical health among attorneys? Read more...

Big Law Rates Topping $2,000 Leave Value ‘In Eye of Beholder’

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Some of the nation’s top law firms are charging more than $2,000 an hour, setting a new pinnacle after a two-year burst in demand.

Partners at Hogan Lovells and Latham & Watkins have crossed the threshold, according to court documents in bankruptcy cases filed within the past year.

Other firms came close to the mark, billing more than $1,900, according to the documents. They include Kirkland & Ellis, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Boies Schiller Flexner, and Sidley Austin. Read more...

The associate salary deception

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When your average baseball fan goes to a ballgame these days, invariably he grumbles about the expense — $50 tickets, $15 beers, $9 hot dogs, and so forth. “It’s those greedy players,” he complains to the guy next to him. “They make millions of dollars, so the club has to charge high prices for everything. They should be grateful just to have a job in this economy.”

In reality, of course, the price of game tickets is completely unrelated to player salaries, which are tied to overall industry revenue. If you’re in doubt about this, ask yourself: When teams sell off players and lower their payrolls, how come tickets prices don’t drop as well? As for concessions, invariably these are run by separate companies and their prices are independent of what’s happening on the field. But the team owners are more than happy to encourage this faulty reasoning, because it gives them PR cover whenever they lock out players or conspire to keep salaries low — the average fan blames labour, not ownership. Read more...

JMW (another successful Validatum® client) income rises 25% to £66.6m

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The board has given all employees one week’s pay to reflect a ‘record’ performance and loyalty in the last financial year.

Full-service law firm, JMW Solicitors LLP, has announced that its income increased 25% year-on-year from £53.2m to £66.6m in 2021/22.

JMW’s London office contributed £15.7m of the overall revenue, compared to £10.5m in the previous year, marking a 48% increase. Read more...

Traditional partnerships dying out as ABSs top 1,000

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The traditional partnership is now the least popular form of law firm structure, while alternative business structures (ABSs) now make up more than 10% of all practices, new figures have shown.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) also recorded in fall in the number of reports of sexual misconduct at work as well as non-sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying, among 10,400 reports of possible misconduct by solicitors overall. Read more...

Legal Departments' Spending Soared Last Year, Fueled by Merger Frenzy, Outside Counsel Rate Hikes

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“In the current inflationary environment, it is increasingly important for corporate counsel to keep an eye on rate trends and work closely with outside counsel to manage costs," report author Kris Satkunas said.

Corporate legal department spending shot up in 2021, pushed up by hourly rate increased by outside law firms and a record year for M&A, a new report shows.

The biggest chunk of spending went to the 50 largest law firms, which all have at least 750 lawyers. They took in 46% of outside counsel spending, according to the report from LexisNexis CounselLink. Read more...

Give Them Credit: Attorneys, Mental Health, and the Billable Hour

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By putting their money—that is, their billable hours requirements—where their mouth is, firms will demonstrate they are serious about mental health and well-being—and reap valuable benefits for their bottom line, too.

Res ipsa loquitor seems a fitting term to apply to Reed Smith’s announcement in mid-May that its fee-earners may credit up to 25 hours annually of work on sustainability projects as billable time. Read more...


Recovering legal costs successfully


Matters often start out with a stressed client and considerable sums at stake. This, added to the pressures of other clients and cases, means that the focus tends to be on the legal work. Agreeing a detailed retainer and clearly recording costs information is often undertaken with little enthusiasm compared to the case itself.

This leads to mistakes, omissions and cut-corners that reduce the level of costs recoverable. In effect, firms are throwing money away — money that they have earned. Read more...

Housing work threatened by fixed costs regime


Ministers have been urged to abandon plans to extend fixed recoverable costs to housing cases after being handed hard data to show the potentially catastrophic impact.

The Ministry of Justice plans to extend the fixed recoverable costs regime next April. However, earlier this month the department announced it would delay extending the regime to legally aided housing possession cases by two years after practitioners raised concerns about delivery and sustainability. Read more...

Criminal legal aid fees will increase 'by end of September'

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The government has revealed that it hopes to lay secondary legislation shortly that would see criminal legal aid fees increase by the end of September.

Justice minister James Cartlidge told the Gazette this afternoon that the Ministry of Justice’s 12-week consultation on a £135m reform package received 204 responses.

'We have been working around the clock to consider the responses but, if the remaining analysis follows the feedback we have considered so far, then I can confirm we would lay a statutory instrument in parliament before 21 July, to begin the process of implementing increases to fees to come into effect by the end of September,’ he said. Read more...

Barristers prepare to walk out over legal aid fees


The criminal bar has voted to escalate action over the government’s refusal to meet their legal aid demands – with the first court ‘walkouts’ scheduled to begin next week.

Since April, hundreds of barristers have adopted ‘no returns’ in response to the government’s refusal to uplift their fees by 25% as well as other changes.

After being balloted on whether and how to escalate the action, the Criminal Bar Association announced this morning that the majority of members have voted for the highest form of escalation: court walkouts and refusing to accept new instructions as well as no returns. Read more...

Client ordered to pay firm’s fixed fee despite matter falling through

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The High Court has ordered that a law firm should be paid for months of work it carried out on a bond issue despite the transaction eventually being aborted.

In Blacklion Law LLP v Amira Nature Foods Ltd & Anor His Honour Judge Paul Matthews ruled that central London firm Blacklion completed more than 90% of the work that would be needed for the transaction and should received the agreed £300,000 fixed fee. Read more...

Law firms making ‘wildly inflated’ costs claims, standards body finds

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Costs lawyers should be more widely retained to stop firms from inflating their costs when they are working on a contingency basis, according to a specialist regulatory body.

The report prepared by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB), which regulates around 700 costs specialists, suggested that large corporate buyers feel legal costs are ‘out of control’ and that the market needs greater intervention to rein in firms. Read more...

Barrister failed to justify direct access client’s £420,000 bill

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A direct access barrister who failed to justify fees for herself and a colleague of £420,000 plus VAT for a divorce hearing has been fined £5,000 by a Bar disciplinary tribunal.

The tribunal said it was a “basic and important requirement” for barristers to keep contemporaneous records of work done when charging hourly rates and Rosa Zaffuto should have identified ‘Person B’, who was disabled, as a vulnerable client. Read more...

Biggest-ever review of profession highlights role of Costs Lawyers in reducing cost of legal services

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The work of Costs Lawyers can exert a downward pressure on the cost of legal services at a time at a time when large corporate buyers feel they are “out of control”, the biggest ever review of the profession has concluded.

The report by Hook Tangaza, commissioned by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB), said that – two decades on from the introduction of regulation – the framework was “ripe for review”.

It made a series of recommendations, including using regulation to strengthen the role of Costs Lawyers as “independent actors in the sector” – more akin to barristers and more open to instruction directly by clients – and considering the introduction of entity regulation by the CLSB. Read more...

Litigation funder jointly liable for indemnity costs, court rules

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Litigation funder Therium should be jointly and severally liable for indemnity costs after a specialist currency debt management firm unsuccessfully sued HSBC, the High Court has ruled.

The funder agreed to back the claim by ECU Group against a number of HSBC entities over allegations that traders used knowledge of ECU’s foreign exchange orders to make a profit between 2004 and 2006, in a practice known as ‘front running’. Read more...

Irwin Mitchell did not have consent for £28,000 deduction, court rules


A costs judge has ruled that the mother of a claimant did not give informed consent to solicitors deducting £28,000 from her daughter’s damages.

The mother, the claimant’s litigation friend in EVX v Smith, had not objected to the deduction by national firm Irwin Mitchell after settlement had been secured in a clinical negligence claim. Read more...

Government to pay ‘reasonable fees’ of Post Office claimants

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The government has said that ‘reasonable fees’ will be recovered for former subpostmasters asking for more compensation after the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Business minister Paul Scully today announced an interim payment of £19.5m to the 555 members of the High Court Group Litigation Order (GLO) who initially exposed the scandal. Read more...

Costs lawyers urged to play bigger role in “out of control” market

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The whole profession needs to address “out of control” legal costs, a major new report has concluded, but costs lawyers have a significant role to play in exerting downward pressure on them.

It said strengthening the position of costs lawyers as “independent actors in the sector” could help reduce costs, as well as bring other benefits like making costs advice more directly accessible to clients through innovative services. Read more...

Civil Justice Council kicks off 'holistic' review of costs


The Civil Justice Council has set in motion a possible shake-up of the civil costs regime with the start of a wide-ranging consultation. The judicial-led group will look at the key areas of costs budgeting, guideline hourly rates, the impact of digitisation and portals, and the consequences of the extension of fixed recoverable costs.

A working group has been set up to discuss the issues and events will be held in the coming months to get a sense of what costs changes – if any – the profession wants. Consultation closes on 30 September. Read more...

Firm to pay wasted costs after ‘negligence’ in bringing case


A Bristol firm has been ordered to pay the costs of a failed application after the court ruled it was not properly instructed by its client.

In Rushbrooke UK Ltd v 4 Designs Concept Ltd, His Honour Judge Paul Matthews made the wasted costs order against Neath Raisbeck Golding Law (NRG) over its role in a company’s application for an injunction to stop a winding-up petition. Read more...

Court of Appeal rejects defendant’s fixed costs challenge

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Fixed costs did not apply to a personal injury case which had fallen out of the protocol, the Court of Appeal has asserted. In Doyle v M&D Foundations & Building Services Ltd, Lord Justice Phillips ruled that there was no ambiguity in an agreed court order requiring the defendant to pay costs that were ‘subject of detailed assessment if not agreed’.

In the proceedings following an accident at work, the defendant did not respond to the initial claim and the case dropped out of the protocol. The matter was allocated to the fast track and listed for trial, but was settled for £5,000. Read more...

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The coming together of these 3 power-house firms has enabled us to create something truly revolutionary. I have no doubt that Virtual Pricing Director® is going to drastically alter, for the good, the way lawyers price-up work” Richard Burcher, Managing Director, Validatum®, Chairman, Virtual Pricing Director® & Legal Pricing Academy®


Whether you are just starting out on your pricing career or are already highly experienced, whether you want to undertake some ‘light-touch’ professional development or aspire to the pinnacle of Certified Legal Pricing Professional, the Legal Pricing Academy® can help you achieve your goals” Richard Burcher, Managing Director, Validatum®, Chairman, Virtual Pricing Director® & Legal Pricing Academy®