Pricing for Access to Justice

The billable hour is dead! You’ve likely seen this headline a time or two over the past couple of years, and for good reason. As CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves pointed out in his 2016 blog post on pricing, we’ve largely priced the proverbial regular guy, and even ourselves sometimes, out of the market for legal services. While the idea of moving away from the billable hour is now slowly gaining momentum in the legal profession, we’ve been preaching alternative fee arrangements at the CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project from its very inception back in 2013.

And we don’t just preach it at the JEP we practice it too! One of the most fundamental ways lawyers can make their services more accessible to low and middle-income legal consumers is by offering predictable pricing (also referred to as alternative fee arrangements). For this reason, one of the core tenets of the JEP is to offer predictable pricing arrangements to potential clients. Examples of these arrangements include offering fixed fees, which can be for the entire case or for discrete portions; subscription fees; and hybrid arrangements that involve a combination of two or more alternative fee arrangements.

Learning how to price alternative fee arrangements isn’t easy, and the CBF discovered in the early stages of the JEP that there was a dearth of practical pricing resources. This led to the creation of the CBF/JEP Pricing Toolkit and an in-house series of related pricing trainings.

The Pricing Toolkit is designed to give practical guidance to JEP lawyers and others who are interested in pricing their services to be more affordable and transparent. In addition to offering a step-by-step process for setting predictable pricing, the toolkit contains a two-page summary matrix of various alternative pricing options that can be effective in the consumer market. The Pricing Toolkit has served as a guide for practitioners throughout the United States and beyond, and the CBF received meritorious recognition for it from the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services in February 2017.

Today, over 60 attorneys are part of the JEP Network and experimenting with various alternative fee arrangements. As such, the CBF is constantly learning more about alternative pricing and plans to share its findings in the release of a second, more robust version of the toolkit as well as a companion webinar series debuting in early 2019.