The legal sector is experiencing a shift in how services are delivered as new pricing models are emerging in the market. Traditionally, hourly billing has been the standard for law firms. Clients are billed on an hourly basis for the length time a lawyer spends on a case.

However, in recent years, fixed fee billing has become more common. According to Bloomberg Law’s most recent Legal Operations & Technology Survey, 74% of the AmLaw 100 mentions ‘alternative fee arrangements on their website. With this pricing model, the lawyer and client agree the total cost up front and payments are typically spread out over the course of the case.


Both pricing models have their benefits and drawbacks for lawyers and clients and in this article, we look at each in more detail.

Hourly billing: the pros

Perhaps the biggest benefit of hourly billing is its familiarity. Lawyers are used to billing by the hour and clients are used to paying an hourly rate. For some clients, this familiarity provides a clear way of comparing one law firm to another. For law firms themselves, hourly billing can be very profitable, particularly in long, or complex cases.

When the length of a case is unknown, it can be challenging to estimate the workload. An hourly fee enables lawyers and clients to proceed on the basis of recurring need, allowing for increases in workload when required.

For many clients, hourly billing is clear and understandable. It allows for flexibility if the workload of increases or decreases and it can reduce administration time on small matters.

Hourly billing: the cons

The most obvious drawback of hourly billing is that it could be seen to incentivize inefficiency on the lawyer’s part. After all, the longer a case goes on, the more money the law firm makes with an hourly billing model.

Hourly billing also creates an element of uncertainty for the client. When work is charged per hour, clients aren’t able to budget for the entirety of a case and may end up spending significantly more than they first anticipated.

It’s also said that hourly billing encourages performance to be measured against financial targets, rather than the value provided to the client. The success of a lawyer becomes determined by their billable hours rather than their skills, experience or innovation.

Fixed fee billing: the pros

According to a 2016 survey conducted by law firm Altman Weil, law firms that embrace alternative fee arrangements, enjoy a seven-year trend of success. From a client’s perspective, fixed fee billing provides cost certainty, enabling them to plan their finances more effectively.


A 2016 report from LexisNexis found that nearly 7 in 10 clients on fixed fees said they would ‘wholeheartedly’ recommend their lawyer, compared with 45% of those on hourly fees. This predictability means there are no surprises for clients when the final fee is invoiced.

Fixed fees also enable clients to make better decisions as they can weigh the costs of legal representation against the benefits and drawbacks of winning or losing the case.

With fixed fee billing, the focus is on value rather than billable hours, which aligns with the interest of the client and the law firm. Lawyers are encouraged to work efficiently to add as much value to the client’s case as they can. In a word, fixed fee pricing encourages problem solving.

One example of a law firm that operates on a fixed fee basis is Danish company Legalup. Their subscription service offers a range of packages at various fixed prices, which enables clients to make more informed decisions about whether to pursue legal representation.

Fixed fee billing: the cons

One drawback of fixed fee billing is that lawyers may overestimate or underestimate the amount of work involved in a case. With the former, a law firm could find itself out of pocket if a case takes longer than expected. And with the latter, the client could be the one who is left feeling short-changed if a case is wrapped up quicker than expected.

For some clients, the idea of fixed fee billing might be daunting. The idea of paying a large sum, albeit in staggered payments, can feel riskier than simply paying an hourly rate on an ongoing basis.

Long or complex cases aren’t always well-suited to fixed fee pricing. For example, the introduction of new evidence can significantly extend the length of a case, in which instance, an hourly fee mig

ht be better suited to minimise financial risk to both parties.

How technology is impacting pricing in the legal sector


Technology is providing law firms with an increasing number of ways to collect, analyse and leverage data in regards to pricing their services.

For example, legal tech software like WiseTime, enables law firms to autonomously track where their time is being spent. This historical data can then be used to estimate the workload of future cases and to provide an accurate cost to the client.

With this data, law firms can compare the actual time spent on cases with the time that was billed to gain insights into whether hourly or fixed fee pricing is working best.

Autonomous timekeeping software also enables law firms to see where they could be losing out financially. Analysing historical data can help firms adjust their workflow processes to be as efficient as possible.

During the coronavirus pandemic, law firms have come to rely heavily on technology to keep operations running smoothly. But how do you know that the software you’re using is secure? In this post, we explore the legal tech that offers security as a principle.



From setting up online collaboration tools, to navigating video conferencing software, you’d be forgiven for being complacent about cyber security at this time. However, now, more than ever, security should be a top priority. With staff working from home, you need to ensure that the software everyone is using, is secure.

Video conferencing app, Zoom has had a surge in popularity recently, however, some companies are backing away from the video conferencing app over concerns for security.

An article published on news website The Intercept reveals that Zoom doesn’t guarantee end-to-end encryption for its meetings, despite misleading marketing stating that it does. As such, the app is vulnerable to hackers, who can gain access to users’ webcams.

In light of these vulnerabilities, let’s look at the issue of cyber security in more detail and explore the legal tech that is taking security seriously.

What is security encryption and how does it work?

Encryption is the process of turning information into code that hides the true meaning of the message. The practice of encrypting and decrypting information is called cryptography and it’s vital to assuring the security of software.

At the beginning of the encryption process, the sender needs to decide what cipher will be used to hide the information and what variable will be used to make it unique. The various types of cipher fall into two categories: symmetric and asymmetric, with the first using a single secret key and the latter using a pair of keys.

Essentially, encryption provides software with confidentiality by encoding the content of a message. It provides authentication by checking its origin and verifies its integrity by checking that the message hasn’t been tampered with.

As well as protecting the confidentiality of information, encryption is also required for software to meet with compliance standards.

The importance of cyber security in legal software

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach 2019 study, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.92 million and the average time it takes to identify a breach is 196 days. As such, cyber security should be an essential consideration when it comes to choosing legal software.

Cyber attacks against law firms are increasing. As more companies embrace digitisation, the threat of cyber attacks become ever more significant. As an industry, the legal sector is particularly vulnerable to attacks due to the vast amounts of money, information and sensitive data that can be obtained.

One of the most common cyber attacks in the legal sector is phishing attacks. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), over half (52%) of law firms have experienced a cyber attack, with 82% reported to be phishing attacks. These attacks are typically conducted by email with the sender attempting to gain access to client money by pretending to be a trustworthy source.

Ransomware also poses a threat to law firms by encrypting their files until a ransom has been paid. This type of attack is usually spread through unsolicited emails. When a member of staff clicks on a link within the email, the files become encrypted.

Earlier this year, a number of law firms in the U.S. were hit by a ransomware attack by a group known as Maze. As well as encrypting each firms’ data, they also stole it.

In addition to loss of data and revenue, cyber attacks can also have a negative impact on a law firms’ reputation. Reputational damage can be long-lasting as clients trust their lawyers to keep their data safe and secure. A potential breach of this information can cripple a law firm’s reputation beyond repair.

Perhaps the most widely-publicised example of reputational damage through a data breach was Mossack Fonesca’s ‘Panama Papers’ incident. The law firm found itself under international scrutiny when more than 11.5 million documents were leaked to the public anonymously. As a result, the firm had to shut down because of economic and reputational damage.

Legal software that prioritises security

So, how do law firms know what software has good security? To help you choose the most secure legal tech for your firm, we’ve compiled a list of software that priorities security as a principal feature.

  • Legaler helps law firms schedule, host and archive online meetings securely in a browser, using end-to-end encryption. Audio and video are encrypted using AES-128 keys to avoid ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks. It also stores all data in its encrypted state on military-grade, protected servers.
  • Clio is a cloud-based legal software company that enables law firms to manage cases and bill clients. The software works with some of the world’s leaders in internet security, including McAfee, TRUSTe and Digicert.
  • Privnote enables law firms to share confidential notes via a web link that self-destructs after it has been read. The software uses unique, one-time-use HTTPS URLs that immediately expire after being accessed by any web browser.
  • Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service with a strong focus on security. It enables law firms to send encrypted telegram messages that self-destruct.
  • provides legal departments with a trusted approach to organizing corporate and legal data. It uses military-grade security and centralised storage to help protect sensitive documents.
  • Kryptophone is an encrypted smartphone that enables users to make secure communications. It uses encrypted voice and video calls, instant messaging, emails and encrypted internet traffic.
  • WiseTime is our own software that lets lawyers automatically track their time. It was designed and developed on the principles of individual privacy and security. WiseTime uses an industry-leading Equinix data center to house its private servers as well as Google Firebase for identity management. It also uses enforced Transport Layer Security (TLS), to ensure that all communications are sent via a private and secure communications channel.

When it comes to choosing legal tech, law firms should consider how the software approaches encryption. You should also look at how it handles individual privacy and how it stores sensitive data. Cyber attacks are on the rise in the legal sector, so law firms need to look at their internal security as well, making sure that staff are aware of what phishing emails look like. By choosing legal tech with a focus on security, you’ll have peace of mind that all the data you process is secure.

To learn more about how WiseTime designs for security, read their white-paper, ‘Security by Design’.

Traditionally, the legal sector has been somewhat risk-averse in its attitude towards remote working. And for an industry with so many regulations, it’s understandable. The culture that comes with working in the legal sector doesn’t always lend itself well to working from home.

Firstly, there’s the issue of data sensitivity, then cyber security procedures need to be considered and client-lawyer confidentiality still needs to be honoured.

Nevertheless, law firms are making it work amid our current global crisis. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, companies in almost every industry are now legally required to work remotely.

Law firms have had to think laterally and implement remote working policies to ensure the continuity of their business, their client relationships and their productivity. In most cases, this has only been possible thanks to the variety of technologies that we have access to today.

As the legal sector continues to embrace remote working, what impact will this new practice have on law firms in the long-term?

Streamlined operations with legal tech

Over the last few weeks, it’s become apparent just how much law firms rely on technology to sustain their business. In order to operate remotely, they need to be in full control of management matters and have access to key information outside of the office. Lawyers need to be able to collaborate in real-time and stay up to date with their clients and colleagues.

Whereas project management tools like Trello and video conferencing software like Zoom are helping to sustain business operations for now, in the long-term, we might expect to see more law firms embracing dedicated legal tech.

Software like WiseTime autonomously documents what activities lawyers spend their time on throughout the day and tags their case references for billing. And software company Everlaw, enables lawyers to work collaboratively to build arguments for litigation cases.

Similarly, HighQ provides legal services with secure project and client collaboration, helping to drive digital transformation in the industry. Case management software Patricia by Patrix, with its extended DMS module helps law firms improve their over-all case management process with a versatile suite of document related tools that’s tailored to a remote workplace.

A better work-life balance for lawyers

According to the Financial Times, millennial lawyers in particular, are seeking more flexibility in their work. They value a good work-life balance over salary and career progression.

Remote working provides employees with the flexibility to choose working hours that suits their lifestyle. For example, lawyers with children are able to plan their working day around childcare, all the while, being able to spend more quality time with their family.

Workplace flexibility also reduces stress levels. According to research conducted by FlexJobs87% of professionals say that a flexible job would reduce their stress. What’s more, 97% say that a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.

Improved productivity and increased profit

According to the 2019 IWG Global Workplace Survey, 85% of employers confirm that productivity has increased in their business as a result of greater flexibility. By adopting long-term remote working practices, law firms can boost their productivity and in turn, increase their profits.

There are a number of case studies out there that demonstrate how remote working is helping to increase profits in other sectors. For example, Dell’s remote working policy is said to save the company $12 million per year in office space.

And the same principles can be applied to law firms. Remote working reduces the need for desk space, which, in turn, can save companies money. For example, London-based law firm Ince & Co increased their annual turnover by 16.1% by introducing flexible working alongside agile working practices.

Adopting a more inclusive culture

According to, companies that embrace remote working have a higher percentage of women in leadership roles than those that don’t. Its research found that 28% of remote companies had either women CEOs, founders, or presidents, compared to 5.2% of traditional companies.

And research conducted by the Harvard Business Review concludes that companies with higher-than-average diversity have 19% higher innovation revenues.

Developing an inclusive culture not only helps law firms meet their legal and regulatory duties, it can help attract top legal talent. Jobseekers are more likely to apply for roles with companies that have a reputation for encouraging a positive culture.

Attracting a wider talent pool

IWG’s 2019 Workplace Survey reports that 80% of professionals say that they would turn down an employer that didn’t offer flexible working. In the near-future, law firms with remote working policies will be viewed as more desirable by job candidates than those without.

Remote working inherently increases the geographic reach for hiring. Instead of being restricted to a 20-mile radius of their office, law firms will be able access talent from around the globe. In turn, this will ensure they get the right lawyer for their firm, not the most convenient.

Likewise, law firms with workplace flexibility are more likely to retain their staff. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to be loyal to a company. As such, the firm benefits from their experience and investment in training as they progress up the legal career ladder.

Some closing thoughts…

As a sector that has traditionally been hesitant to embrace remote working, the coronavirus crisis has forced law firms to embrace home working whole-heartedly. With today’s technology, there’s no reason that law firms can’t continue to offer their staff the option of working remotely in the future. Some firms, such as Fleuchaus & Gallo, did so before the crisis and will continue to do so after it. And when flexible working is proven to increase employee wellbeing, company productivity and turnover, why wouldn’t they?

In the wake of this global crisis, many firms are under extreme pressure and disruption due to the advice to keep workers home. While many jobs can be performed remotely, many are just not yet set up to do so.

At WiseTime, we’ve had a remote working culture from the beginning due to the nature of our business. We do have offices around the globe, but we are also fully equipped to handle all of our business as usual with our teams working only remotely. We understand however that this isn’t the norm, and many are just now seeing the importance of having the processes in place to allow employees to step away from the office, but not from their jobs.

While there is a lot of advice already circulating to help ease the panic and pain of the transition, we hope to put this in a different light. We have long been advocates for agile and flexible working. There are vast benefits to making flexible arrangements available for your teams. We hope that while companies are putting measures in place to tackle the current climate that they also think ahead.

If we set our teams up with the tools and processes to be able to collaborate remotely, then this is a huge benefit that all companies can continue to realise even after our office doors reopen. While many companies would have put flexible arrangements in the too hard basket, or simply mistrusted the concept (thinking sweats on the couch equals ‘working from home’) this might be the enlightening moment that we all needed to realise the merits and great opportunity that working remotely can bring.

Here are a few learnings from our team:

Chat and Video are king

Our team communicates regularly in two main ways – our chat tool (with channels for specific topics, teams and a ‘water cooler’ for any type of chat) and video. Video calls have been crucial to creating our collaborative culture. When new employees join, there’s often a bit of a hesitation about this mode of communication, because it still isn’t the norm in business comms. However, as everyone grows comfortable with video and chat, the benefits multiply over and over. The difference between a phone call and video call is immense, and when building relationships with colleagues, there is nothing more important than connecting you face to face. Albeit through a screen, the benefits of visual cues and communication are the same. Similarly, the agility of a live chat vs. the slow and oftentimes confusing nature of email (in particular if huge threads evolve) makes a huge difference in the quality and efficiency of communication.

Embracing these tools will make relationships flourish despite the distance, communication gets easier, and the more it becomes part of your culture, the better. A quick chat or video call can replace 50 back and forth emails and does to culture and morale what nothing else can do in a remote working environment. So don’t shy away, turn your camera on and give your colleagues a smile the next time you need to discuss something.

Keep hours as regular as possible, and build trust

A very common hesitation to begin flexible arrangements stems from mistrust of employers and employees. If you really consider this: mistrust isn’t really alleviated by the act of showing up in the office – one can be physically present and mentally on vacation. So the fear that remote workers aren’t focused really brings to fore a bigger trust issue that employers, or team members, might have. At WiseTime, we foster trust in the workplace and keep an eye on productivity in two main ways:

  • Keeping hours as regular as possible

    Whenever you can, keep your hours regular. This builds confidence amongst the team that colleagues are there when they are needed, and it helps teams to make plans to collaborate effectively when they know each other’s schedules. Whether you are taking a flexible day, or work remotely full time, it might often be that you need to alter your hours on occasion. Make this known to your colleagues so that they know to expect you to be unavailable at this time (e.g. by a quick chat message in the group chat). Setting expectations is the key, and one great way to do this is to share a common spreadsheet of everyone’s intended regular hours and communicate with each other when you deviate from this.

  • Keep everyone accountable, but don’t spy

    While it might be tempting to enforce some kind of monitoring to ensure productivity is staying on point, resist the urge. Big Brother monitoring tools, though allowing you to see what’s happening outside of the office, are the quickest way to lose any trust with your employees. It is still important to know what work is being done and how projects are progressing, however steer clear of any services that show you what employees are doing in real-time or take random screenshots throughout the day. Instead, give your employees a privacy-first tool that allows them to review and submit this information when they are ready, and retain the utmost privacy while they work. At WiseTime, we eat our own dogfood and use our software every single day, and we’ve built it from scratch with user privacy as one of it’s foremost priorities.  

Arm your tech toolkit for collaboration

Once you alleviate any mistrust, the common concern for teams working remotely is that it might stifle collaborative efforts. To this we say – embrace technology! There are tools to enhance every type of collaboration remotely, including video conferencing, ‘live’ whiteboards to help you have those creative brainstorming sessions and live document editing tools to avoid double-work. We use GSuite to share and edit files collaboratively because it’s accessible, intuitive and perfectly equipped for our needs.

If your team needs to collaborate on bigger projects, workflow management tools, such as Jira or Asana, make it easier to define what roles and tasks are assigned to each person within the project. They also allow you to assign tasks back and forth throughout different stages and offer an overview of the status of each task and project at all times so that everyone is always on the same page. We personally love Jira, and connect it to WiseTime so that we can track productivity and project progress along the way. 

A few tips from our team:

“Move! Because you cut out travel, meetings and strolling out to lunch, it’s easy to be incredibly sedentary when you are working from home. Get up at least every few hours – stretch your legs, walk around the block or even do 5 minutes of exercise. The beauty of working remotely is that you can do push-ups next to your desk at morning tea without judgement!”

  • Magda, Marketing 

“To keep your vision in check, get up every hour or so and look out the window somewhere in the distance for at least one minute.”

  • Shane, Engineering & Development Lead

Don’t underestimate the value of the incidental conversations in maintaining a strong team. Make the extra effort to connect with your colleagues on a personal level, despite your distance. Utilise your team comms to ask about your colleagues’ weekends, find out about the weather in your respective locales, just as you would when working in an office space in real life.

  • Claire, Professional Services

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, travel restrictions and health concerns are prompting many companies to embrace remote working for the first time. For some, adopting remote working practices will feel like uncharted territory, so we’ve put together this guide to provide you with a handy framework that has proven to work for us and many of our customers.

At WiseTime, our workforce spans 15 countries, with just over half of our team working remotely around the globe. For us, this approach feels normal, works very well and we see the benefits of having a flexible workforce every day.

According to FlexJobs’ Annual Survey, 77% of workers say that having a flexible job allows them to be healthier and 86% say they’re less stressed. Enabling your employees to work outside the office encourages a better work-life balance, which makes for healthier, happier employees – what’s not to like?

In the long-term, remote working can also increase your company’s productivity. Recent research from International Workplace Group (IWG) finds that 85% of businesses confirm that productivity increases due to greater flexibility. It can also future-proof your business by retaining your top talent. Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work report finds that companies that allow remote work, experience 25% less employee turnover than those that don’t.

So, whether you’re embracing remote working through necessity, or through choice, the case for enabling this flexibility seems pretty clear, right? But how can you overcome the challenges of implementing it into your business?

Here’s how you can make it work for your company and build a future-proof flexible workforce:

Build trust with your employees

One of the biggest challenges that companies face when implementing remote working is building mutual trust with their employees. You need to know that your workers will continue to maintain standards, meet deadlines and practice open communication.

By contrast, employees need to know that they won’t be micromanaged, will be given the freedom to plan their day accordingly and the flexibility to manage their workload.

One of the best ways to build trust with remote workers is to maintain consistency and accountability. You can ensure that best practices are followed by encouraging your employees to review your remote working policies on a regular basis. Allocate specific days and times for deadlines, meetings and check-ins and communicate the importance of keeping to these appointments.

Using WiseTime allows you to keep everyone accountable, without overstepping the mark in terms of privacy. The app has privacy preferences that users can set themselves, and their activity is never shared with their team until they post it. This gives employees the assurance that they aren’t being spied on, but that their hours and input is being recognised and valued. It also really helps with keeping an eye on personal productivity and helping individuals work smarter day to day.

Integrate remote working into your company culture

IWG’s research reveals that 43% of companies fear how flexible working may impact their overall culture. Given that employees tend to view company culture as more important than salary, it’s important that they’re on board with any culture changes you make.

As such, your company needs to be clear on how its culture is currently perceived and how it needs to adapt to maintain employee support. Try to be transparent about why you’re introducing remote working in the first place and outline how your workers will benefit.

If your employees understand the reasons behind the changes, they’ll be more likely to embrace the process with positivity.

Define roles and responsibilities

Roles change over time and sometimes the job we initially applied for evolves into something different. It’s therefore important that every remote worker in your company has clearly defined duties and responsibilities. In an office environment, companies can afford a bit more flexibility in defining roles, but with remote working, roles need to be watertight to avoid overlap and the doubling-up of work.

At WiseTime, we would encourage companies to review their employees’ job descriptions and duties before implementing remote working as they may have changed over time. By ensuring that both the employer as well as all employees understand what falls within the scope of each worker’s  everyday job, workloads can be distributed evenly and productivity levels will be maintained.

Similarly, workers should also be made aware of how remote working will impact their career progression. They should be reassured that working remotely won’t have any negative impact when it comes to applying for promotions – quite the opposite. As a company, having clearly defined career paths can mitigate any concerns employees might have about their future within the company.

Maintain a sense of teamwork

Remote workers can sometimes experience feelings of loneliness and disconnection from their team. This is amongst the biggest risks in maintaining an efficient remote workforce. To ensure the wellbeing of your remote workers, you need to maintain a sense of teamwork within the company.

The key is to connect regularly with your remote workers through telephone, email, video calls and face-to-face meetings.

You should consider using collaboration tools like Slack or the Google Suite to maintain a high rate of communication amongst workers as this, despite being online-communication, will provide a sense of a team and help tear down the isolation wall. Make sure you give employees quick and easy access to managers and other team members to remove obstacles quickly. Frequent check-in with your remote team will make them feel that attention is being paid to their efforts and that they’re still connected to the company and its culture.

Likewise, project management tools like Trello help remote workers update each other very easily on the progress of projects and campaigns. And organising regular team building days and social gatherings won’t go amiss either.

At WiseTime, we try to mitigate feelings of isolation by organising bi-weekly progress meetings with our entire development team. Combined with our active chat group, with channels for work and leisure, we find that this approach works well in helping everyone stay connected.

A few closing thoughts…

Remember, remote working isn’t an all-inclusive term. Whereas some remote workers may work outside the office permanently, others may only do so once a week. As a business, it’s important to consider the needs of every ‘type’ of remote worker in your company.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing remote working practices. Every company is different and you should customise your approach to make it work for you.

Find out more about WiseTime, privacy-first autonomous timekeeping, and how it can help you and your team make the best of use of time while working remotely: