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It’s time to be frank about legal costs

Hello everyone,I hope you’re having a good week.Legal costs are not the most transparent out there.Indeed, it does seem that most of the time they’re almost “top secret” unless people get in touch and speak to someone.There is, of course, a rationale for not putting a fixed figure out there for various legal costs. The mantra goes “it depends” - as it can do in any professional services area.Yes, of course, every piece of legal work is different – especially when it comes to tailored services such as our own.But this doesn’t excuse keeping prospective clients in the dark.What can and should be given is a clear indication of the cost range – so that people know if they’re in the same ballpark as you before a lot of time and energy might be wasted.In the coming weeks, we’re going to be putting up a set of cost ranges on our website to do exactly that.We believe they are fair, and we are not concerned about competitors using them as a reference point.(Let’s be honest, we all have a broad idea of how much other operators in our industry cost, anyway).Most importantly we’ll be making it clear to people why we’re not as expensive as some people, and why we’re not as cheap as others. This is all down to the value clients get from our services.A little bit about that can be found below.To clarify. Broadly speaking there are no good or bad options when it comes to selecting a legal service provider. There are only better or worse “fits” for client requirements.However, it is important for clients to be aware of what might drive their costs up or down, and whether this is something that is reflected in what they receive at the endpoint. 

What drives costs up

 Things that can drive costs up include:
  • Maintaining larger business overheads (offices, infrastructure, other departments)
  • Individual and departmental fee targets
  • Outside help “priced in” (whether from a different department, firm or counsel)
  • Older less efficient business practices
  • Large teams unnecessarily working on cases
  • “Everything on the clock” hourly rate
The more expensive options on the market often ensure that a job is completed quickly and to a reasonable standard.However, in certain circumstances a more cost-optimized option may be preferable to clients – after all, businesses of different sizes have different sized legal budgets and requirements.  

What drives costs down

 Things that are often seen in
  • A service provider offering unregulated services (i.e., not requiring practising certificates)
  • No professional indemnity insurance  
  • Fewer people involved in service delivery
  • Use of templates and boilerplate agreements
  • Automated support
  • Lack of specialist assistance
 When all this is factored less expensive options – whilst cheaper initially – can end up more expensive in the long run. This is because a lack of substantial support can result in lower-quality legal work and a lack of a safety net for when things go wrong.  

Where we are at and our value promise

 Without getting into the weeds, we’ve designed our services (and our business really) – to provide as much value to our clients as possible.We are not cheap, nor are we prohibitively expensive. Here’s why:
  • We are not a large team, nor do we operate with overheads associated with a prestige office.
  • We do not operate in a partner structure and instead remunerate the team in proportion to the value they consistently deliver to our clients.
  • As IP specialists we have 99% of the expertise and experience “in-house”, increasing the quality and speed that we can turnover work and reducing the need for outside help.
  • We are regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority, which means that each member of our team must abide by the standards set by the SRA.
  • We are covered by professional indemnity insurance, meaning that our clients are protected from adverse outcomes under specific circumstances.
  • We don’t use templates and as a result, the work we produce is tailored specifically to client's needs properly in the first instance.
  • We are a human-driven operation, with highly trained and approachable legal professionals available at the end of the phone.
  • We only charge for work that “moves the needle”. You can speak to us without fear of being charged for every and any interaction.
  • Whilst we can help deal with issues as they arise, we do not want to be “reactive”. We’d prefer to empower clients to avoid issues before they have a significant impact.
  • We are entirely focused on providing valuable client outcomes – what we do for clients’ commercial position outweighs the cost of our services.

Wrapping up

 At Virtuoso Legal we have a singular belief – and mission!We believe:We succeed because our clients do.We’re not altruistic! We have a vested interest in our clients' success – because we grow alongside them over time.We have several clients who have been with us from day 1, and who we are delighted to have built lifelong partnerships with.Long may it continue. Our mission?We want to change perceptions around the legal industry – to design legal services around our clients, and not require them to conform to us.That means re-evaluating everything to see if it aligns with the value that our clients receive. We’ll never be the biggest firm, nor are we interested in a race to the bottom. But what we can be is someone who clients value and trust as if we were on the board.We hope you will join us on this mission. I think one with value and meaning.Hope you have a fantastic week. Kindest regards,Liz
Elizabeth Ward, Principal of Virtuoso Legal
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