Recently I spent some time with directors of Sydney based boutique firm, Source, Stanislav Roth and Sean Melbourne. As I do with many firms, I discussed the pleasant feelings that certainty in business delivers. With Source, I believe I have found a firm that may have found the magic beanstalk beans on certainty, for not only their firm, but also their clients.
I was drawn to Source given their unique offering in the market for unlimited legal services on a monthly retainer basis. “We offer our clients a fully outsourced legal department, for one fixed fee per month” said Stanislav Roth, “…and with that, our clients have complete access to our entire firm of lawyers. We have recently added other professional services such as HR and finance on the same basis.”
Stanislav and Sean are unapologetic in their approach to this strategy. “We create certainty for our clients, and that is invaluable” said Sean Melbourne. “Professionals should take the risk on time, not clients, as time-based work does not incentivise efficiency” said Stanislav. “The ultimate outcome is strong client relationships.”
Source’s service delivery is simple: unlimited advice and services for one fixed fee per month. “We know our cash flow six months from now,” Sean Melbourne proudly stated, “because our clients love the service and stay with us long term. It can only go up as we engage new clients.”
Source doesn’t lock their clients into a contract. Their retainer can be cancelled at any time on one month’s notice. They keep their clients by providing them with great legal support, not by locking them into a contract.
Not only does this strategy have positive impacts on clients, client relationships and cash flow, the internal cultural effects are also significant. Sean and Stanislav are proud of the fact that not one lawyer, or any professional, in their firm records any time – ever. It’s that simple. The positive vibe in their firm is quite evident, as the stress and anxiety of hitting billable hours targets each day is non-existent. “Yes, like any firm we do work long hours if needed, but we are not walking around each day with a report of units charged,” said Stanislav.
Source’s approach is very client-centric and Stanislav and Sean always take the client’s perspective when it comes to service and cost. “Having certainty of your legal budget for the next 12 months is extremely valuable to our clients,” said Stanislav.
The retainer model is not for everyone, but it certainly is a model that many firms could consider for long term, regular clients. Not only are there the immediate positive impacts on cash flow, culture and client relationships, but recurring predictable revenue can have positive impacts on firm valuations.