White Plains, New York (PRWEB) September 16, 2008
Effective and open attorney-client communication is essential to the success of any legal endeavor. Unfortunately, communication is often compromised because of cost. With many law firms billing by the hour, the answer to a quick question can come at a high price.
In an effort to increase client communication and alleviate concern over phone calls and e-mails leading to higher bills, Gravett & Gravett has discontinued "hourly billing," a practice that, according to the American Bar Association, dates back to the 1960s.
A 2007 survey by The National Law Journal reported that three quarters of all law firms surveyed raised their hourly billing rates in 2007, with the average hourly rate having risen to $348 per hour, a 7.7% increase over 2006. Two of the law firms surveyed even reported their hourly rates to be in excess of $1,000 per hour.
Under the system of hourly billing, clients have little indication of how much their case will ultimately cost. They know their attorney's hourly billing rate, but it is virtually impossible to predict how long their case is going to take, or how much time their attorney is going to spend on the case. With a billing system based upon a fixed-fee, agreed-upon in advance, the Gravetts are able to provide clients with the total cost upfront. In exchange, clients can interact with their legal team as much as they need to, at no additional cost.
"When we billed by the hour, our clients felt that they were giving us a blank check in the beginning of the case," said Willem Gravett, founding partner of Gravett & Gravett. "Our clients wanted everything done with as little communication as possible - for fear of the bill they would receive. We want to hear from our clients and we want to answer their questions. So, we threw out the time clocks. Nothing we do is billed on an hourly basis anymore. We work on a fixed fee, agreed-upon in advance, so that there are never any surprises."
The billable hour has been under scrutiny for a number of years, alleging that it encourages attorneys to value quantity over quality and that it rewards inefficiency. Yet, in 2002, The American Bar Association Commission on Billable Hours reported that about 90 percent of law firms still used hourly billing.
"Court proceedings can be complicated. We want to help our clients through the process and ensure that we understand their priorities and act in their best interest," said Margaretha Gravett, founding partner of Gravett & Gravett. "By adopting a fixed-fee billing system, we can increase client contact and develop life-long relationships with our clients"
Gravett & Gravett's fixed fee billing system allows clients to agree to the total cost of their case upfront. Regardless of the duration of the case, or the time and effort involved, no additional charges are accrued. Consequently, clients do not have to scrutinize their legal bill for added costs and hidden surprises.
Gravett & Gravett has offices at 100 South Bedford Road, Suite 340, in Mount Kisco and 445 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 1102 in White Plains.
About Gravett & Gravett
Willem and Margaretha Gravett are Personal Family Lawyers™ and founding partners in a boutique law firm focusing on the legal needs of families. They strive to be their clients' trusted advisors for life through their total commitment to client care and service excellence. Serving families in Westchester and Putnam Counties, Gravett & Gravett has offices in both Mount Kisco and White Plains. For additional information visit http://www.gravettdivorce.com or call 914.358.0036.
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