Sports boutique scraps hourly rates

West End sports boutique Spring Law has struck a first blow in the war on hourly rates by abolishing them in favour of fixed fees. The move follows growing dissatisfaction with hourly billing among in-house lawyers.

Last month The Lawyer revealed that 67 per cent of in-house counsel believe hourly rates are outdated, while 68 per cent saw project-based billing as the solution.

Spring Law partner James Russell said: “Quite a few of our sports clients are suspicious of hourly rates and we thought we’d give them the certainty they’ve been looking for.”

Before the shift to fixed fees the firm charged between £125 and £300 an hour.

The firm has developed a three-step process to work out fixed fees, putting a figure on the time, effort and value of a particular matter.

Russell said: “We make a judgement on how much time and effort will be needed and then apply a value test, asking ourselves whether this represents good value for the client.”

In litigation the firm works out a separate, one-off fee for each stage of the proceedings to accommodate unexpected filings from the opposition. Spring Law’s associates do not have hourly targets and bonuses are linked to the overall performance of the firm.

Spring Law was set up in 2002 by Tim Perry, the former general counsel of Sportsworld Media Group. The firm now has three partners and 12 lawyers in total.