Monash University
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Pricing Practice: Exploring Costs in Victorian Legal Services

posted on 2023-10-05, 06:02 authored by Catrina Denvir, Jessica MantJessica Mant, Genevieve GrantGenevieve Grant, Hugh McDonald, Nigel BalmerNigel Balmer

Lawyers’ matter scoping and billing practices are central to the cost and market for legal services. As a result, they have a direct relationship with access to justice. Lawyer communication with clients about these practices is a major driver of client understanding and agency in the service relationship. This communication is also an important aspect of the quality of legal services and has a direct bearing on consumer experience. Nevertheless, the issue of costs communications, the efficacy of current regulatory requirements in respect of costs, and the influence of pricing models on the accessibility of legal services remains an under-developed area of research.

In light of this, this exploratory research was commissioned by the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) to examine the factors that influence the pricing of legal services, how practitioners communicate with clients regarding anticipated costs, and how service costs and cost communications affect the lawyer-client relationship. This study sheds light on these issues through qualitative analysis of interviews with 17 practitioners working in the area of wills and estates, and family law. These practitioners worked across metropolitan and regional settings, within large firms and as sole practitioners, and employed fixed fee, value, retainer, and hourly rate pricing models.

This report is published by Victoria Law Foundation. Victoria Law Foundation supports better justice through research, education and grants and is funded through the Public Purpose Fund administered by the Victorian Legal Services Board.

The project was led by Associate Professor Catrina Denvir and Dr Jess Mant with Associate Professor Genevieve Grant from Monash University, and VLF Principal Researcher Dr Hugh McDonald and Research Director Professor Nigel Balmer.