27 May 2016

Lawcadia lays down the law on legal cost blowouts

News

Author: Glen Norris, The Courier Mail

FORMER high-flying corporate lawyer Warwick Walsh is on a mission to ensure law firms don’t inflict the equivalent of “bill shock” on their clients.

Mr Walsh earlier this year started a Brisbane company called Lawcadia that invites lawyers to tender for big cases through a centralised website, replacing the traditional method of laws firms providing an estimate of work that often turns out to be hopelessly wrong.

With some legal bills coming in quadruple the original estimate, Lawcadia has already attracted the interest of companies and government departments wanting legal work done on everything from tax to takeovers.

“At the moment, there is no transparency in relation to legal spending,” said Mr Walsh, a former legal eagle at McCullough Robertson and Freshfields. “Law firms are not good at estimating legal fees. In some cases, the final bill can be four times the original estimate.”

Mr Walsh concedes he has a challenge convincing often conservative lawyers about new technologies and ways of doing business. “The legal industry has a particular issue with innovation,” he said. “Partners can be fairly risk averse when investing in new technology and processes. But at the end of the day, law firms will do what their clients want them to do.”

He said while law firms have traditionally relied on relationships and connections to build their client base, Lawcadia offers a more transparent way of doing business.

Lawcadia does not charge companies for using its services, rather it collects from the appointed law firm 5 per cent of the fees that the client is billed for the matter.

Mr Walsh said a client will initially provide Lawcadia with a brief on the work required then firms are invited to bid for the work based on their experience, price and fit with the client.

Lawyers are reviewed on six key factors including pricing transparency, expertise and quality of advice. This holds lawyers accountable for their pricing and service.

Lawcadia will not be able to help those seeking a cut price deal on their conveyancing or divorce, with the services targeted at the top end of town.

 

Photo: Annette Dew

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