Canadian Lawyer

May 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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14 www.canadianlawyermag.com LEGAL FEES SURVEY FEATURES CANADIAN LAWYER'S 2020 Legal Fees survey, in the market before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shows a continuation of the trend in recent years of slight fee increases, year over year. Lawyers told Canadian Lawyer that clients also continue to grow in sophistica- tion, a double-edged sword that has resulted in demand for alternative fee arrangements and some unreasonable expectations fuelled by the online "do-it-yourself " market. On the West Coast, clients are not resisting "modest and reasonable" fee increases, says Bruce Hallsor, managing partner of Victoria, B.C.'s Crease Harman LLP. "There's a lot of demand out there for legal services," says Hallsor, whose practice includes corporate and commercial law, real estate, secured transactions, estates, tax and trusts. "Generally speaking, in all areas that we practice, demand has gone up." Significantly more survey respondents reported they'd be raising their fees this year than last — 53 per cent, which is nearly 10-per-cent higher than said the same in 2019. For 45 per cent, fees will remain the same as 2019. Only 1.2 per cent indicated they were lowering fees in 2020, but that is an increase from 2019, when zero respon- dents reported dropping their fees. Whether the slowdown in the economy caused by the pandemic will cause a shift in legal spending remains to be seen. Higher overhead was the most common reason respondents gave for a decision to raise fees, followed by inflation and then increased complexity. For the small number who lowered fees, it was competition and the economy that motivated the decision. Most fee arrangements are based on the Lawyers report a continued rise in legal fees and sophisticated client expectations that demand communication and transparency Fees rising before downturn

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