City firm calls for openness on fees

CITY firm Davies Arnold Cooper has criticised what it calls the Law Society's approach of emphasising what is good for lawyers instead of concentrating on what clients want.

In a speech called 'Legal fees – getting more for your money' last week, senior partner David McIntosh launched the firm's latest cost control protocol.

The protocol publicly provides information on fees, budgets and expenses.

McIntosh explained: “We first launched the cost control initiative in 1993 because the firm was fed up with being tarred with the general brush of law firms being too expensive.

“A number of City legal noses were put distinctly out of joint. They did not like being set an example in openness.”

Chris Curling, senior partner at Osborne Clarke, said: “Davies Arnold Cooper's initiative is an interesting marketing idea. We already have a quality of billing concept which eliminates any element of surprise for the clients when they receive their bills.

“We do agree with DAC's opinion of the Law Society. Solicitors should be open from the start about fees and should sweat blood for the high fees that they demand.”

Michael Payton, senior partner at Clyde & Co, said of the protocol: “I am all for initiatives which ensure that the clients must have value for money and be able to see that that is so.”

David Harrel, senior partner at SJ Berwin, said: “This initiative is something which all firms are being required by their clients to provide.”

He added: “I think what they are talking about makes a lot of sense. Clients should feel the value of what they're getting.”