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At LAC Lawyers we believe in being open and upfront with our clients about legal fees. In an effort to aid transparency we have created this section of our website to discuss and disclose those things that client’s really want to know about legal fees.
At LAC Lawyers we charge for the professional work we do in assisting clients to resolve their legal issues. In some circumstances we are willing to enter into flexible payment options for the benefit of our clients but please note payments must be made on time and that we do not work for free.
Initial Telephone Discussions
We do not charge fees for preliminary discussions with any client or prospective client where the matter can be dealt with in no more than 15 minutes. Apart from that all of our fees and charges are based on hourly rates for all areas in which we work.
We consider that hourly rates offer a greater degree of transparency and protection to clients as they can easily examine the work done and the time taken to ensure that the services rendered are fair and reasonable. We issue detailed Fee Schedules in all matters following the first consultation.
Lump sum fees are opaque and the client never really knows what they are paying for providing the lawyer with the opportunity to take short cuts which are sometimes not in the client’s best interests.
The standard process we go through when discussing fees
- LAC Lawyers receives enquiry, we immediately respond and make an initial assessment of the legal problem to see whether it requires further action. Discuss future fees moving forward and applicable rates. (No Charge)
- Meet with client and discuss nature of legal matter as well as options available to them. Fill out Enquiry and Disclosure sheet.
- Acquaint client with costs issues in their matter and future events that may increase or decrease their legal fees.
- Issue client with a Cost Agreement and Disclosure Document so the client knows exactly what will be done for them and an estimate of how much everything will cost. This document protects client as it sets out their rights and obligations in plain English.
- Inform client of our trust account details so they can deposit an agreed amount into the law firms trust account so we may commence work.
- Once these documents are signed and returned to LAC Lawyers as well as depositing money into our trust account we commence work on your matter and you are on your way to having your legal matter dealt with.
Where clients are seeking to minimise costs we will encourage them to complete tasks of a non-legal nature which subsequently reduces the overall cost.
Booking Fee for Suburban Office Appointments
We charge an online booking fee of $110 prior to any attendance for an appointment at any of our suburban locations. This fee will be deducted from the fee charged when you attend for that appointment.
The typical payment arrangement we have with our clients
- In the initial conference and after, your lawyer will discuss with you the likely cost of pursuing your legal matter and will issue you with a Cost Agreement and Disclosure Document in which this estimate is formalised.
- Your lawyer will then request that you make a deposit into our trust account in accordance with what has been agreed and work may commence on your matter.
- Invoices are typically issued monthly and we require the client to maintain a sufficient balance in the trust account to cover the costs incurred on your behalf.
- Once an invoice is issued and after a period of 7 days a transfer from the trust account will occur to pay the outstanding invoice.
Fees and Disbursements
Our costs are made up of fees for work done together with disbursements or out of pocket expenses which we incur on your behalf which are set out in our Enquiry & Disclosure Sheet and our retainer documents (Costs Agreement and Disclosure Document). These expenses are fully itemised to ensure that you are aware of the nature and extent of the expenses incurred on your behalf. Nothing is hidden, everything is transparent.
Flexible Payment Options
At LAC Lawyers, we offer a number of payment options for our clients depending on the nature of their case and their finances.
Unlike many law firms, we provide with a sample copy of our costs agreement and disclosure document which is available to be viewed on our website. Although there may be slight variations from one area of practice to another our cost documents rely upon Law Society precedents which satisfy the requirements of the Legal Profession Act and Regulations. We issue cost documents in all matters and they fully set out the scope of the retainer, the nature of the work to be done and the hourly rates and disbursements we incur to execute your instructions amongst other things.
In an effort to aid transparency with regards to fees we have included a copy of our standard form Costs Agreements that we offer to clients at the commencement of their legal matter. These documents may be subject to change depending on a client’s individual circumstances.
In the Disclosure Document which accompanies the Costs Agreement estimates can be provided on a number of bases including:
- the application of hourly rates until the issues have become sufficiently clear;
- ongoing estimates in stages; or
- an overall estimate of what the potential costs of the matter might be sometimes including a range of estimates.
Hourly rates and Fee estimates are provided to keep clients informed of the likely costs of litigation. The vast majority of matters settle before going to court with the costs incurred being far less than those in a full-blown hearing. Where this occurs and fixed fee arrangements are entered into the lawyers involved may receive an unwarranted windfall.
A trust account is an account maintained by professionals for the purpose of holding other peoples money “on account” for another purpose.
At LAC Lawyers, we use a trust account to allow our clients to deposit money with us in anticipation of future legal costs.
Where clients are successful a percentage of their legal costs may be recovered from the other party more so where an indemnity costs order is made in our client’s favour.
Win or Lose
With any litigation there is always the risk that a client may not win and therefore be instructed by the court to pay the other party’s legal costs. Although there are some courts and tribunals where this does not occur they are in the minority.
Throughout any litigation we always keep our clients advised about costs and where there is a change in circumstance which is likely to impact on this we advise them accordingly. This is covered in our disclosure document.
Online Payment Gateway
To assist our clients, LAC Lawyers is able to process payments online through our banking partner St George Bank.
Always make sure that you need a lawyer before you retain one as quality professional advice and service does not come cheaply. Our view is that lawyers should rarely be retained in small matters and only where the subject matter is such that it requires their involvement. We have posted some content which may assist you in this regard.
We do not do legal aid work.