SOURCE: Johnson/Turner Legal

Johnson/Turner Legal

April 01, 2016 18:12 ET

Johnson/Turner Legal Breaks the Fixed-Rate Barrier

FOREST LAKE, MN and BLAINE, MN and WOODBURY, MN and LAKE ELMO, MN--(Marketwired - Apr 1, 2016) - For as long as there have been lawyers, it seems, there has been hourly billing -- and clients who don't like it. Those clients often say they want something different. At Johnson/Turner Legal, different comes now. The local firm is converting the billing structure in many of its practice areas -- beginning with their divorce practice -- over to fixed-rate pricing, giving clients the almost unheard of ability to buy legal services with the price known in advance.

"You might not believe it, but lawyers dislike hourly billing as much as our clients," says Chris Johnson, who, along with Erin Turner, manages the firm. "Painstakingly tracking small increments of time has yet to win a single case. Plus, it's boring! Clients don't like time billing either. And it's easy to see why."

Attorneys at the firm tell stories about clients who didn't call their attorneys with information critical to their case because they were afraid of getting charged for the phone call. Says Erin Turner, "I've had friends call me for legal advice when they are at that moment engaged with a different attorney on their case. I always tell them they have to talk to their attorney. I'm happy to listen, but I'm not the lawyer who needs to know!" Such gaps in communication can easily lead to legal missteps far costlier than the price of a short phone call. This is the kind of penny-wise and pound-foolish behavior that Johnson/Turner Legal believes is encouraged by hourly billing. They hope to change the behavior by providing their clients access to attorneys without the pressure of the running meter.

The firm also thinks fixed-rate billing will keep their focus on getting the results their clients seek, rather than how much time and effort they put into the case. "As business owners I guess Erin and I sort of have to be interested in how many hours our attorneys work -- though we're not really all that interested -- but we know that our clients don't care how many hours we work. At least now that they're not paying us by that metric."

Johnson likens hourly billing to buying a ticket for an airplane flight, but having the airline bill the passengers after the plane lands, depending on what fuel cost that day, the wind speed and direction and how many people were on the plane. "The airline takes the pricing risks," he says. "They can do it because it's their business to know. Just like we know our business well enough to quote and live by fixed prices."

Another advantage of the new pricing philosophy is that it helps reduce anxiety for clients who right now often see wildly fluctuating bills at month-end. "This removes the uncertainty," explains Turner. "A lot of our clients are already dealing with uncertainty in their personal or professional lives, and anything we can do to help ease that uncertainty is a big help."

About Johnson/Turner Legal
We're a just-right-sized Minnesota law firm with offices much closer to you than you may think. We're currently open in Forest Lake, Woodbury, Blaine and Lake Elmo, with some other possibilities on the way. Our experienced attorneys span a wide variety of practices, including family law, litigation, real estate law, business and municipal law, estate planning and a host of other areas. We've won a lot of cases (and awards for that matter), but at the end of the day, we're all about focusing on you and keeping it real. And if you happen to have any good lawyer jokes, bring them. We make fun of stuffy law firms, too.

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