Tania Tandon: Scoping and Pricing Legal work


For nearly 20 years, I have been party to endless discussions about how much to charge for legal advice (the fees) and what the price should include and not include (the scope).

In theory, agreeing the scope is important. In theory, it should allow both the lawyer and client to revisit the scope to enable the fee to change when the scope of work changes. If the scope is clear, again in theory, this is straightforward and the time invested in agreeing the scope at the outset saves time discussing fees later…in theory.


My experience has taught me three things:


1. If I was buying legal services, I would want to pay for the objective/result. Expecting a client to agree the roadmap and specifics of what is included therefore seems strange and unfair. I have paid for many services including my car being repaired, dental and medical treatment and financial accounting. I would not want the fee to depend on how the expert chose to deliver it to me. I would not be that interested in discussing it either. I would not want responsibility to shift away from the expert for the services to be delivered.


2. However much time is put into the scope discussion, revisiting it to change the fee is not simple or easy to agree. Relationships can become unnecessarily strained. It would in most cases be more effective to just deliver the services (whatever the scope) and receive payment for it.


3. Agreeing scope against fees is particularly hard when each aspect of the work is based on how long a firm expects it to take. Inevitably, the work takes longer and internal time recording alarms are firing off warnings because the agreed fee quote has been overrun!


Having spent the last 6 months not recording time, basing fees on time or discussing work scope other than the service outcome required, has been fantastic. I don’t expect a client to tell me or agree how to deliver advice or an outcome, surely that is our responsibility.


Tania Tandon
Co-founder TandonHildebrand
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