Fixed-Price Mediations – will they become the norm?
“A Serious Lack of Transparency”
This was the conclusion of recent research into the cost of legal services. Perhaps one of the best ways to help clients manage their finances in the divorce arena, is to offer more fixed-price services. This has been seen as difficult in the divorce arena, where costs can easily spiral, but Fixed-Fee Mediations are now beginning to be offered by client-focused law firms.
Family Mediator Samantha Jago of RHW Solicitors in Guildford, Surrey, talks here about fixed-price mediation as a recent innovation, and about the costs of getting divorced, in this short video interview.
There is a serious lack of transparency over the pricing of common legal services, major new research has found – with those providers who do publish their rates and also the ones who offer fixed fees generally cheaper than law firms that do not.
The research was commissioned by the Legal Services Board (LSB) and is said to be the first proper study of what consumers actually pay for legal services.
Strategy director Caroline Wallace said transparency and fixed fees were good for firms because consumers would be more confident about choosing them. She emphasised that the LSB was not saying consumers should always go to the cheapest lawyer, as there were other factors that needed to be taken into account.
What clients may not realise is that getting divorced can be better managed financially by taking a more holistic approach. The legal aspects can be kept to a minimum if the couple remain able to avoid court action. It can also be reduced if they get financial advice and do their homework and use mediation sessions effectively. If emotions get in the way, then wellbeing support from divorce mentors and coaches, counsellors, and parenting experts can have a powerful impact on how smoothly the family separation is conducted, not to mention the psychological benefits of such a holistic approach on the family as a whole.
Apart from being able to access the Fixed-Fee Mediation services of Samantha Jago in isolation, there is now also the unique opportunity to buy a holistic pack for divorce which includes initial sessions with key experts in their fields as well as the Mediation service.
“We recognise that families going through separation are on very tight budgets, the last thing they need is to be slapped with a large legal bill they were not expecting.
The idea behind the fixed fee mediation package is that clients can attend and be reassured, in advance, that their costs will not escalate out of control. With a clear cost structure that is easy to understand the client can plan for what they can afford and how far they want to take the process.
In a letter to the CMA about the research, LSB chief executive Neil Buckley said the lack of transparency “does nothing to alter perceptions about the high cost of legal services and thus inhibits efforts to address unmet legal need”.
He said the board would be writing to all of the frontline regulators “to encourage them to explore further steps to improve price transparency”.
For a no-obligation conversation with Samantha contact:
T: 01483 302 00
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