Canadian Lawyer

June 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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20 www.canadianlawyermag.com SPECIAL REPORT LEGAL FEES [don't] go off on many tangents, like litiga- tion, personal injury or family law can." Almost 59.6 per cent said they offered fee packages or bundles in the survey, while 58.08 per cent offered blended hourly rates. While last year's survey indicated that 17.3 per cent of the firms provided a contingency fees option, that figure rose to 20.71 per cent this year. Wagner says an hourly fee in the personal injury space makes no sense. He would even expand that structure to other areas of law "almost universally for a number of reasons, including access to justice." The billable hour structure can prolong trials with unnecessary motions and requests for disclosure and discovery. "And if you're talking about personal injury, most people who are injured have been displaced from the normal economic balance that they have between income and expenses, so asking them to assume a whole new collection of expenses is exceedingly difficult for them." One area where clients will likely see a lower number, thanks to the pandemic, is in disbursements and costs for things such as lawyers' time in court. "COVID is impacting the final bill that the clients receive because certain expenses once charged no longer Canadian Lawyer is publishing a benchmarking report specifically designed for firms up to 25 lawyers. This will include a detailed breakdown of legal fees in each practice area covered in the survey, together with insight into firm profitability. If you would like more information or to purchase a copy of the report, please contact lisa.narroway@keymedia.com. apply," says Hempey. Costs such as renting a room for media- tion or discoveries, printing, parking, travel and flying in experts no longer apply as much as they used to, thanks to technology that allows for electronic filing and videoconfer- encing, for example. Hempey also notes that hourly lawyer bills can be lower because lawyers don't have to wait hours, and charge for it, to deal with a case in court. "We've been slow to adopt technology, but we're finally leveraging it to become more efficient," she says. Wagner says lower disbursement costs not only help the client but the lawyer, too. "Say you take a $100,000 settlement pre-COVID, with $20,000 in disbursements. The contin- gency fee comes out of that $80,000 left after disbursements. But if you take that same $100,000, with lower disbursements of $10,000 because of COVID, the contingency fee comes off the $90,000. So, the lawyer and the client both win." "COVID is impacting the final bill that the clients receive because certain expenses once charged no longer apply." Mia Hempey, Nelligan Law

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