We do not ask our clients to blindly trust us. Instead, we elicit trust by ensuring that our legal bills account in some way for the value that we deliver (measured largely by the results that we obtain). When our clients lose, we lose and when our clients win, we win. We believe that by fairly sharing some of the risk and reward, we can forge stronger partnerships with our clients.
Customized billing arrangements. Excellent legal work.
Prices that reflect results.
Clients expect to receive value when they pay for legal services. And yet, most law firms charge the same amount whether their clients “win” or “lose” and regardless how effectively the firms handle a matter. We do not. Our many years of experience have taught us that we serve our clients best when we have skin in the game.
Step 1. You meet with us
You meet with our lawyer(s) and go over the specifics of your case.
You must bring:
- The most relevant documents (e.g. key contracts, any court documents, relevant correspondence); and
- 2 forms of valid government-issued picture ID (e.g. passport, driver’s license)
Step 2. Early Case Assessment
Our lawyers review the relevant documents and the relevant law to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This is a very important step. It allows us to begin formulating an effective strategy to resolve your problem and enables us to begin the process of setting your reasonable expectations. We believe that you are only able to act reasonably throughout the course of a legal matter if we provide you with the knowledge you require to do so.
You decide whether our early case assessment is done on a flat fee or hourly-billing basis.
a. Value-Based Flat Fees
Our firm has evolved by listening to what matters to our clients: budget certainty and an alignment of financial interests between client and lawyer. We are one of the first law firms in Canada to offer flat fee billing arrangements on all litigation and corporate matters. When a client pays its lawyer on an hourly basis, it is paying for time – not value. Flat fees encourage innovation and effectiveness, while deterring redundancy and inefficiency. Quality and effectiveness are more important to us, and ultimately to our clients, than the time we spend.
Our flat fee model is simple – a set fee for an agreed-upon scope of work. We offer our services on a flat fee basis by matter or phase of a matter. Flat fees ensure that our clients know upfront how much their legal bill will be. There is no need for our clients to worry about how long a phone call or a meeting lasts because we are not billing based on our time.
Why Are Flat Fees Advantageous?
Download our article featured in Canadian Lawyer Magazine to find out.
b. Value-Based Hourly Billing
For those clients who feel more comfortable paying on hourly basis, we still offer a modified traditional billable hour arrangement.
Most of our lawyers began their careers at national or international law firms and chose to work at SNF because they wanted to be able to offer their services at more affordable rates. Our clients get the benefit of working with lawyers with the training and expertise of BigLaw lawyers without paying the inflated hourly rate.
Our billable hourly arrangement is “modified” because we always “value-check” our accounts. This means that, in addition to ensuring that our account reflects the result achieved, we also evaluate whether the proposed account is reasonable, considering the amount at stake, the advice provided, whether the client agreed to proceed as advised, and the amount that the client ultimately gained or lost. Our goal is to ensure that our clients are satisfied that the outcome justifies the costs by which it was achieved.
For some exceptional matters, we will provide our services on a contingency basis. In these circumstances, we get paid a percentage of any amount recovered. That means we only get paid when our clients do.
d. Monthly and Annual Retainers
Large corporations are increasingly hiring in-house counsel, in part because in-house counsel are a fixed cost, unlike most external counsel who typically bill by the hour. Having already paid the fixed cost of their in-house counsel, corporations are prone to seek their in-house counsel’s opinions as situations develop. By doing so, they are better able to prevent legal problems before they arise. Conversely, when dealing with external counsel who bill by the hour, corporations, fearful of the ticking clock, can be prone to seeking legal advice after a legal problem arises. This amounts to ’emergency legal care.’ Preventing legal problems before they arise is, for the most part, more cost effective than dealing with a future legal problem.
Many mid-size corporate clients would benefit from an in-house lawyer, but do not require sufficient legal work to justify hiring one. Perhaps the client needs 1/4 or 1/5 of an in-house lawyer.
SNF acts as in-house counsel for mid-sized corporate clients. For a set monthly or annual retainer, we can be on call to deal with legal issues that arise in our clients’ day-to-day operations. By providing clients with a fixed cost, we aim to incentivize them to seek our advice as situations develop, but before possible problems become real and, possibly, disastrous problems. To ensure that the retainer is appropriately set, we typically suggest a review of the amount every 3 or 4 months.
e. Customized Arrangements
We do not profess to have thought of everything. If our client requires a customized billing arrangement that differs from those listed above, we will work with it to develop a plan that fits its needs.