April 13, 2024
Doyle's Guide

Pricing Report – NSW Construction, 2015

Perhaps unsurprisingly NSW’s construction lawyers rank comfortably as the nation’s most expensive construction lawyers and… by some distance.

In most other Australian construction legal markets there’s a degree of fear associated with listing a rack rate in excess of $600 per hour however that’s the reality for the majority of Sydney’s construction lawyers.  Interestingly, this pricing gap has widened, perhaps due to comparatively strong activity of the NSW construction market compared to the previously hot WA and Queensland markets.

Hourly Rate

As highlighted above there’s no shortage of hefty pricing when it comes to NSW’s construction lawyers but, nonetheless, over a quarter of the market still list a rack rate under $500 per hour.  In the purest sense this looks to be a remarkably efficient economic/pricing market with a better than average stratification of rates however face value is somewhat misleading.

Our phone interviews revealed few patterns as to such hourly rates with large firms often sitting comfortably under $500 per hour and smaller firms having no hesitation at pricing themselves over $600 per hour.

For the record the percentages of survey respondents who listed their rack rates in various bands were as follows:

  • $300-$400 – 12%
  • $400 – $500 – 17%
  • $500 – $600 – 19%
  • $600 – $700 – 18%
  • $700 – $800 – 27%
  • $800 – $900 – 4%
  • $900 and above – 2%

Alternative Pricing

On the whole NSW’s construction lawyers use alternative pricing methods but are far from innovators and leaders when it comes to such things.

Some 85% of firms have used models other than an hourly rate with the predictable instances of fixed fees and capped pricing being overwhelmingly common for front-end practitioners and stage based costing used regularly by contentious construction lawyers.

What was overwhelmingly pointed out was an move away from both hourly rates and fixed price and move more towards a model that effectively amounts to real time reporting and estimating.  This method was more common in large firms and utilised by larger clients.

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