VeraSage Senior Fellow John Chisholm gives us and update on happenings Down Under with respect to Value Pricing:
This recent article from 23 June Western Australian Business News highlights that some progressive and innovative firms have “seen the light” and are slowly but surely “coming out” publicly in their move away from hourly billing.
Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky (BBV) is one of the Perth firms leading the change.
David Vilensky, BBV’s Managing Partner, who is now a good friend of Ron and I and a zealot for non-time pricing would be first to admit than when he first heard me speak on the topic at a Law Australasia Conference 2-3 years ago he was far from converted. Both at that conference, and subsequently, we engaged in many discussions and debates on the topic.
However, David is not the sort of lawyer who simply closed his mind when someone didn’t agree with him, but rather thinks deeply and rationally about any topic he is discussing (well maybe not his football team West Coast Eagles).
Over time, as he engaged further in discussion and became more and more widely read on the topic (including buying Ron’s books), he decided moving away from hourly billing would be good for his firm.
After hearing Ron speak further on the topic, and as a sign of his and his firm’s commitment to the transition, last year David went to the trouble and expense of closing his firm down for a day and taking every single member of his firm to hear Ron and I address them on Value Pricing and Firm of the Future concepts.
After that, there was no turning back, as evidenced by his statements to the press, his passion when you speak to hi and when you look at BBV’s website explaining its pricing philosophy, the transition has been nothing short of amazing.
Whilst primarily because they are a bigger firm, and the pace of change is often slower, Lavan Legal, too, is committed to moving away from hourly billing ever since the late, great Paul O’Byrne and I met with them some years ago.
They too have had Ron and I involved in speaking to their partners and in my case their whole team over the last year or so and are well on the journey.
The other largest independent law firm in Perth, Jackson McDonald (who also had Paul and I address them on this topic 5-6 years ago) whilst I sense lagging somewhat behind BBV and Lavan Legal, have nevertheless set up a Pricing Council and are still grappling with the challenges of moving away from the time costing and time recording addiction.
There are other smaller firms in Perth that have or are making the transition and of course whilst still in the absolute minority they add to the growing number of professional firms in Australia that have publicly come out and are informing their clients and the public of their moves to non-time based pricing.
Their names are added to other Australian firms that proudly display their non- time based pricing options on their websites, including good friend and VeraSage Trailblazer Matthew Tol’s mta optima; Michael Bradley’s Sydney commercial firm Marque Lawyers; Melbourne and Geelong law firm Harwood Andrews; Canberra law firm Snedden Hall & Gallop; and accounting firm LBW, just to name a few.
Then of course there are those myriad of firms that whilst not so public about it (they see it as a competitive advantage and/or have not quite reached the tipping point in their firms yet) are nevertheless genuinely offering non-time based options to their clients in increasing frequency as they increase their competency and confidence in value-based pricing.
There are also an increasing number of customers of professional firms in Australia who now insist on fixed prices from their providers and thank goodness this shows no signs of abating as more and more clients and their firms experience the enormous mutual advantages. Some of these clients are more than ably assisted by Verasage friend and colleague Liz Harris of Allocatur Consulting.
A long way to go and it is literally one small step at a time and whilst we would all love to see these steps go from a walk to at least a jog given that most firms were either crawling or worse still heading in the opposite direction for the last 30 years, all indicators are that the steps are at least heading in the same direction.
Thanks John. I’m honored to have played a (very) small part in spreading the word Down Under, along with Paul O’Byrne, and Jay Shepherd.
But I think all of them would agree the credit goes to your indefatigable work and enthusiasm in spreading the message, and converting one mind at a time.