How are you with fixed price legal services?
On 19 February 2012 the Financial Times reported the first known ‘brand-share’ arrangement between a barristers chambers and a solicitors firm in the UK.
Launched on Monday, the scheme offers its clients a range of legal services on a fixed-price contract, rather than charging by the hour – or on a project basis. The holding company, LawVest, part-owned by DLA Piper, is fielding ‘Riverview Chambers’ and ‘Riverview Solicitors’ to undertake the work. Riverview Chambers are apparently a disparate (but quite prominent) group of self-employed silks and juniors from other practices, who will take cases on a fixed-fee basis under a ‘door tenancy’ arrangement with LawVest.
Riverview will not charge hourly rates, nor maintain City of London offices, having decided to operate from the Wirral, sending out their listed solicitors and barristers to visit their clients at their place of work. Clients are to be offered a yearly flat fee and Riverview Solicitors will provide a full service up to the point of litigation. Lawsuits are charged on an ‘ad hoc’ basis.
Novel to the legal market with the Legal Services Act, cases can now be funded by third party investment, including hedge funds, who will recover outlay and profit from successful judgments and awards. Yes, this is the arrival of the investment business in our £23bn legal service marketplace here in the UK.
The Legal Services Act has given England and Wales one of the most liberalised legal markets in the world. But is this really a good thing for the client? How do you feel about 3rd party business investment in litigation? What do you think about working under the direction and financial control of an alternative business structure, whose executives may be focussed on profit rather than justice?