Keeping costs to a minimum has always been a key concern for business owners, whether they are a start-up or a corporate – but factor in the global financial crash of 2008, the age of austerity that followed and our painfully long divorce from the EU and it’s clear to see why businesses today keep their budgets on lockdown. Unfortunately for many, this has meant cutting back on essential legal advice and assistance that could support them in reducing their costs even further. Why? Because, in truth, most people don’t know exactly what their lawyer does. This isn’t a criticism of the consumer – on the contrary, it’s the fault of the legal profession. According to a report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December 2016, the legal services market is undermined by a lack of transparency on pricing and service quality – an issue which is illustrated by findings from the Legal Services Board which suggest only 17% of providers publish their prices online. As a result, consumers lack the clear information they need to make an informed decision. The root cause of this problem is the fact that most traditional firms are still set up to bill by the hour, and do not feel they have any real competition. While this charging model may offer a simplistic and familiar approach, it transfers all risk to the client. At the point of instruction, the client places complete trust in their lawyer’s work-rate, agreeing to pay their lawyer an amount determined by however many hours it takes for them to complete a task. On the one hand, it creates a “work harder, not smarter” culture within a firm (not good.) On the other, it provides no clarity to the client on the quality of service provided (“are they really charging that much for a few emails?!”). Despite this, the billable hour remains the dominant charging model in the industry and is the internal currency of most UK law firms. Fortunately, a new model has entered the arena, encouraging businesses to re-evaluate the price they pay for legal services and the value offered in return. Legal services by subscription While the last decade has certainly proved challenging for both businesses and consumers, the changing face of the economy has served to spark innovation across a multitude of industries, as businesses search for ways to reduce expenses, improve efficiencies and keep ahead of the competition. When 360 Business Law was started, we recognised a gap in the market for a more flexible, affordable legal service – one that was tailored to the unique needs of a growing business or global companies and provided complete transparency on costs. We knew that to deliver such a service, we would have to create assorted options for clients – different ways of instructing a lawyer depending on their requirements. In addition to the reduced hourly rate and fixed rate options, we introduced a new subscription model –the first of its kind to be offered on a global basis. The subscription service model allows businesses to control their legal services spend by agreeing a fixed monthly fee for a set amount of work. Once contracted, clients no longer worry about rising fees or nasty surprises: the fees remain the same for the contracted 12-month period no matter how many hours are incurred by the lawyers. This provides a cost-effective legal solution that doesn’t cut back on quality and offers complete transparency regarding the value of service. Yes, you read right. A cost-effective solution that doesn’t cut back on quality. It’s a concept that the industry has been calling out for, but one that couldn’t be born within the constraints of a traditional firm. By operating as a virtual law firm, we have significantly reduced the costs associated with overheads – the costs that traditional law firms can’t escape. This has allowed us to build a network of well-renowned, industry heavyweights who act as consultant lawyers for our firm. Each of our lawyers has a minimum of five years’ experience and most come from top level, magic circle firms. It’s this expertise and our commitment to delivering a high-quality service that has earned us The International Advisory Experts Award 2018 for Corporate Law advice in the UK. How does it work? When you subscribe to our service, our first task will be to determine the volume of work in scope, the unique challenges your business is facing and your commercial aims and objectives. This will allow us to agree a set monthly fee with you for access to unlimited legal services in the discipline(s) you select. This is particularly beneficial for those with on-going requirements, such as contract law work. Unlike online legal subscription services such as Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom, we don’t act as matchmakers between you and lawyers kept on retainers to simply take calls and review documents. Instead, we’ve hand-selected a global team of qualified specialists to assist our growing client-base to the best of our ability. Rather than using a team of junior staff and paralegals, we let modern technology take care of the grunt work that would previously have impacted on the cost of the service. After all, state-of- the-art tools that rely on A.I and machine learning are now perfectly capable of handling tasks that require attention to detail. What can’t be replaced, however, is the knowledge and experience of our lawyers. We’ve stripped away the unnecessary costs to allow our clients to pay solely for the expertise of our lawyers. This creates total transparency and clarity on costs from the outset. Why subscribe? Our subscription service offers a flexible alternative to the traditional fee structures of high-street firms. Many of our clients were tired of paying a high price for an unclear outcome and chose us to allow them access to a designated team of high-quality lawyers for a reasonable price. This has enabled them to take back control of their legal costs and budget for the full year ahead: “We now have true visibility and control over our budget,” said Jim Darragh, CEO of Totalmobile, when asked how our subscription service had benefited his business. “This has enabled us to achieve a high cost saving of 50% of our annual legal expenditure.” By opting for legal services on a subscription basis, smaller organisations also gain access to an impressive pool of resources across multiple territories without breaking the bank.