Queensland’s planning lawyers continue to be remarkably good value when compared to other practice areas and even the state’s environment lawyers who previously feasted on the resources boom have found pricing levels now need to be adjusted to reflect reduced work volumes.
Strong competition and the low overhead model of many specialist and smaller firms sees an hourly rate for planning lawyers typically failing to get beyond the $500 per hour mark and generally offered substantially lower than this level. Some larger firms manage to charge well above these standard rates to property and other corporate clients however as a general guide pricing between $450-$550 per hour should be seen as “average”.
Environment lawyers who managed to scale the $700-$800 per hour mark a few years ago are now seeing a rate of around $600-$650 per hour.
Queensland planning and environment lawyers and law firms displayed a comparatively low usage of alternative pricing method with only some 65% of firms noting the movement away from an hourly rate (generally about 80% of firms use alternative pricing). The variability of planning appeals matters and the abovementioned affordability of planning lawyers generally goes a long way to accounting for this lack of innovation.
Where firms did use alternative pricing then Fixed Price and Staged Based Costing (85% & 70% respectively) were the most widely used methods.
Interestingly the area saw a higher than usual use of performance based fees as a model with over25% of firms offering or using such a model.