Those who buy cheap ...

A fair system is not always easy: In some instances the Austrian lawyers’ law of costs is therefore not exactly straightforward. This, combined with the fact that the international economy would not survive without (all-too) simple algorithms, has led to the fact that Austrian law firms are increasingly yielding to external pressure and are having to offer their services for an hourly wage rate.

However, even in this type of environment things do not occur without differentiations: these include the amount of the hourly rate of the affected person in each case, for example, the lawyer’s partner, the contenders for the profession or “trainee lawyers” and “all other lawyers” or the non-legal employees (of the so-called “law firms”). These are seen as differentiation criteria, and thereby also quality criteria. Of course, the question of the “smallest clearing unit” also arises.

Should the tariff alternation already take place after the first ten minutes (for instance with “mini conferences” according to the lawyers’ tariff laws) or in fifteen minutes or half an hour – or actually only “hourly”, as the concept of the hourly rate would suggest? That would make a pertinent difference, if that short conversation on the telephone (for example to arrange a consultation appointment) was to be calculated as a unit in itself, and if the smallest unit really was an hour...

All of these questions thus render a clarification and agreement between the lawyer and his client absolutely necessary – and the idea can certainly be mooted as to whether this is not more cumbersome than the, at best, required and chaste agreement about an assessment basis (and the importance of the matter under negotiation is to be included in this) such as is demanded by the autonomous payment criteria (with the logic that more work costs more money).



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