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Tomorrow’s Lawyers Today: An Interview with Shayne Bedford from Aspire Lawyers

Q&A Lawyer Feature Article written by Mevni de Silva

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Shayne Bedford, owner and principal solicitor of Aspire Lawyers, to discuss innovation within the legal profession and about their recent change towards a fully value based pricing system.

Aspire lawyers is now operating on a fully value based pricing system, where the price for the services is linked to the work performed and the output yielded, as opposed to the previous charge for their time.

Article Summary Points:

What influenced the change to a fully value based pricing system?

An issue we recognised was the need to improve cost certainty for our clients.

There is an inherent flaw in time-billing since it creates potential for a decrease in efficiency- since the longer a lawyer takes to complete a task, the more they get paid.

With a time based pricing system, lawyers focus more on hitting their time target and racking up hours than focusing on the quality of work produced.

There is also the issue of ‘Bill shocks’ between lawyers and clients for services provided.

A fully value based pricing system helped us eradicate these problems by putting the focus entirely on how to do things as efficiently as possible- even if it doesn’t impact financial performance.

The system is fully transparent and straight up front, and makes lawyers accountable for their work and strategy they implement in approaching the problem, since the lawyer has to hit their goals within the price given.  ^

The shift in pricing must not have been easy. How did the team respond to the change, and what were some difficulties that the team had to overcome?

Paying for results rather than effort is hardly a new concept, but the scheme is very unique in the quite traditional legal industry, and so a lot of bravery is required to implement the scheme.

It was scary from a business perspective, because we didn’t know whether it would be successful or make the business fall over.

We also implemented it during the pandemic, and so it was even more challenging. From the point of view of the team, we also had difficulties with major cost blow outs.

There is also a lot of apprehension about pricing and its uncertainty, and it required a complete mindshift.

It was challenging to teach our lawyers to say no to clients and to sell their services, because there are so many instances where lawyers would never have a conversation with clients about costs other than through correspondence, because it’s just too scary.

We worked through the issues by taking the time to understand what the price should be and how that fit in with what the client saw as valuable for them, and we were able to work out a system that works.

We also brought in specialists with value pricing experience to help improve certainty, and we had to spend many months on educating ourselves and understanding the system.

The benefits started to flow through probably 6 months after implementation, and so initially there was even concern as to whether there really was any difference.

Now however, there isn’t even a question of going back to time billing. The future is value based.  ^

Our philosophy is tomorrow’s lawyers today; and this involves ascertaining what the future is going to look like and do that now.

This means constantly trying to innovate and find faster, more efficient, better ways to function.

We flipped our pyramid of structure upside down and focused on the principle and the organisation essentially supporting teams to grow and learn, giving them autonomy to make decisions.

Our business model for clients involves spending a lot of time to ascertain the clients objectives and extrapolating from that different strategies to tackle the issue.

The client then gets to choose their adventure essentially; whether it is having the lawyer as a voice in the background guiding them or to have them come in at various times when help is needed or to take over the issue completely- the client gets to pick which is valuable to them and therefore there is no specific uniform model implemented for every client.

The company also has direct phone lines and paperless offices, with cloud based software, to not only tackle sustainability issues but also for greater efficiency.  ^

This Q&A Lawyer Feature post does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area.

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