Years ago, lawyers used to charge a fee for the service they rendered. This fee was typically a flat amount such as $500.00. Over the years, the number of out-of-pocket expenses steadily rose. Eventually, lawyers started adding those specific expenses which related to one particular client on top of the bill for their fee. Then, when the use of photocopiers became popular, lawyers started charging on a per page basis for photocopies as if they were another expense paid to a third party. Soon after that, the floodgates opened. Now lawyers typically charge extra for anything they can construe as a charge that can be allocated to a client. For example, many law firms now charge for every page that is faxed. They will also include on top of their fees an additional charge for word processing time or legal research time. All of these charges and out-of-pocket expenses can sometimes exceed the amount of the quoted fee.
At Galbraith Law, we believe clients should have certainty when it comes to pricing. For that reason, we eliminated all internal charges several years ago. Clients told us they really appreciate not paying for the internal costs of running a business.
Now we have taken that a step further. We have averaged all the disbursements and established a flat rate for many standard services. That flat rate now includes all other charges and all standard disbursements. So, if your real estate file has a late closing and we must use a rush courier, then we pay the cost and not you. Some unusual or extra items are still invoiced separately such as purchasing title insurance or paying for a real property report or the cost of an estoppel certificate in the case of a condominium sale. You will find the vast majority of transactions result in no extra charges.
This means you have certainty and peace of mind when it comes to pricing. This means we absorb all the fluctuations and uncertainties. For example, if there are extra documents registered against your title that require a review, we pay the cost of obtaining those documents. If the lawyer on the other side is on the far side of town, we pay the extra courier costs.
All-Inclusive Billing Practices
The vast majority of our work, especially in the area of real estate, is billed on a flat-fee, all-inclusive basis. This means you have the certainty of knowing exactly what it will cost you for us to complete work on your behalf. There are no variables. You have clarity.
Your single-price invoice includes all the fees, other charges, and disbursements or out-of-pocket costs necessary to complete our work on your behalf with a few minor exceptions we will always tell you about. This means charges for photocopies, faxes, couriers, Land Titles registration fees, search fees, and more are all included. There a few minor exceptions which are discussed in more detail below.
The industry standard for billing is to separate out the fees, out-of-pocket costs, and other charges. Many law firms will provide a quotation for their fees. This only covers the fee portion of the work. They will then add extra fees for many items that we consider standard service items such as ordering a document on your behalf. In fact, we have seen quotations from other lawyers where they provide a quote for their fees and then state that those fees can vary depending on complexity and location. We had one client who was provided a quote much lower than the quotation they received from our office. They decided to use the other lawyer. In the end, the bill they received was several hundred dollars higher than the one they would have received from our office. The lawyer explained the mortgage lender had extra documents that must be completed, and hence, further photocopying charges and extra fees were assessed. This will never happen at Galbraith Law.
Here is a partial list of the disbursements and other charges that are included whenever you receive a standard fee quotation from our office:
Arranging Compliance, photocopying, printing, searches, file administration charges, faxing, postage, file room supplies, word processing fees, online/internet fees, title searches, personal property registry searches, tax searches, copies of documents on title, purchaser’s caveat, transfer registration, mortgage registration, Certified Copy of Title, Discharge of Caveat, Certificate of Title, runner fees, courier charges.
Also included in our standard all-inclusive price quote are the following services:
Copy of title, tax certificate, personal property search, condominium documents
Estoppels certificate, insurance certificate, mortgage documents
Caveats, covenant to restore, transfer of land, mortgage, statement of adjustments, transfer back, tenancy at will, certificate of exempt supply, foreign ownership declaration, direction to pay, statutory declaration regarding real property report
Transfer of land, mortgage, caveats
Paying out or Funding:
Mortgage, realtor, vendor, disbursements, legal fees
Vendors undertakings, discharge of caveats, updated certificate of title evidencing discharges of non-permitted encumbrances
Letters, faxes and e-mails to mortgage lender, opposing counsel, realtor, client and city; report to client, report to lender, final report to all parties, and all other correspondence
Meeting with client to review and sign documents
What is NOT Included:
A list of services and disbursements NOT included in our standard all-inclusive quote include the following:
Dealing with writs
Dealing with other debt payments
Dealing with interim or bridge financing
Power of attorneys
Out of town signing
Dealing with Canada Revenue Agency regarding income tax
Courier fees outside of Edmonton
Real property report
Interest on late closings