Lawyers’ fees under pressure as crisis bites, says FD

Lawyers’ fees are coming under pressure and clients are increasingly disputing their bills and delaying payments, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Monday, quoting legal sector sources.

While accountants and consultants’ fees have been under pressure for some time, the economic crisis is now having an impact on the legal sector and clients are shopping around and demanding better deals, the FD says.

Although lawyers remain the best-earning professionals, some 12 of the country’s top 75 legal practices ‘have problems’, Gerard Tanja, of consultancy Venturis, told the paper. They have been hit by a sharp drop in earnings, a reduction in personnel and departing partners, Tanja said, without naming names.


The FD says large companies are trying to reduce their use of legal advisors. ‘All requests have to be first put to the CFO or they won’t pay,’ one partner in a large legal firm is quoted as saying.

Some services are now being offered virtually free. ‘Staff have to keep developing,’ one partner told the paper. ‘Redundancy is not an option because then you get a bad reputation among students.’

Most law firms have not yet published their 2012 figures but between 2008 and 2011, turnover fell by some 5%, the FD said.

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