If you need legal assistance due to an injury or illness, it is important to take the time to ensure you retain a law firm that will achieve your best possible outcome.
A claim for an injury or illness is often once and final. Accordingly, it is important you engage a law firm you can trust will have your best interests in mind.
Many people who have not previously been involved in the claim process retain the first lawyer they meet and are not aware of the red flags to watch out for when selecting the right law firm for their needs.
Are you comfortable with your lawyer?
Selecting the right lawyer is a very personal decision for an injured claimant.
This person will be involved in your life during a very difficult period. It is important you have faith this person will fight for your best outcome.
Most law firms offer an obligation free consultation to discuss your potential entitlements.
This initial consultation is a good opportunity to meet your potential lawyer and ask them important questions. Do they appear to know what they are talking about? What is their experience with similar types of matters? How long have they been practising law? What type of reputation does the law firm have for these types of claims?
Reputation and expertise?
It is important to research a law firm before you retain them to act on your behalf.
Most law firms will have online Google reviews which is a good place to start.
Many firms and lawyers will also have information online regarding their experience and credentials.
For example, the Doyle’s Guide is an annual publication identifying the best firms and lawyers in the area of compensation law as voted by the profession and vbr Lawyers is regularly recognised by the Doyle’s Guide as a leading and recommended firm in various areas of compensation law.
Who will be working on your file?
It is often the case at large firms that an initial consultation takes place with a senior lawyer and once you have signed the client agreement you do not speak to them again.
The file is passed onto a junior lawyer or paralegal without any further involvement of the person you initially met.
It is very important to discuss at the initial meeting who will be working on your matter before you decide to retain a law firm.
At vbr Lawyers the work on your file is performed by a senior lawyer at all times which ensures high quality work.
Law firms are required to be transparent about legal costs and as accurately as possible provide an estimate of legal fees.
Most people who have not been through a legal process have no idea whether the hourly rates in a proposed client agreement are reasonable.
These hourly rates can make a monumental difference to the compensation an injured claimant receives at the end of a claim.
Speaking to a few firms about their hourly rates can quickly identify whether the fees are reasonable. However, there are some other important traps (like uplift fees) to be mindful of.
At vbr Lawyers we find our hourly rates are up to 20% to 40% lower than our competitors.
Law firms are entitled to charge a 25% uplift fee on top of your legal bill in “No Win – No Fee” claims.
It is very important that you carefully review the terms in any potential client agreement to identify whether your law firm will charge you an uplift fee.
An uplift fee is designed for complex claims but we find it is now regular practice for many large firms to apply this uplift fee in every single claim. This reduces the amount of compensation the injured client receives.
At vbr Lawyers we do not charge a 25% uplift fee as we believe this practice is unfair to injured claimants.
Legal regulations require law firms to cap professional costs at 50% of the net compensation amount in a compensation claim.
Many large law firms that charge high hourly rates will almost always charge their fees at this 50% cap.
We believe the regulations are too generous to law firms. Accordingly, at vbr Lawyers we implement our own 30% cap to professional fees to ensure our clients always receive the majority of any successful outcome.
Given our low hourly rates, in many cases our legal costs do not reach this 30% cap. However, it is always there for our client’s protection and peace of mind.
What makes your law firm different?
It is important to ask a potential law firm how they are different or how they will provide you with better or more unique services than their competitors.
For example, at vbr Lawyers:
- Our hourly rates are 20% to 40% lower than many of our competitors;
- We have exceptional expertise in the industry as recognised by the Doyle’s Guide;
- The work on your case is performed by a senior lawyer to ensure high quality work;
- We do not apply a 25% uplift fee like many other firms;
- We apply a 30% cap to our professional fees.
It’s not too late
Just because you have retained a firm to act on your behalf does not mean you are required to stick with them for the entirety of your claim.
We act for many injured claimants who have been unhappy with the legal services they have received from other firms and have asked for a second opinion and then ultimately to act on their behalf.
If you have any concerns with respect to the way your claim is being handled, contact vbr Lawyers for an obligation free consultation.
This blog was written by Zach Samuels, Senior Associate
Phone: 07 5593 2122 or Toll Free 1800 316 716