Cost Estimates and Time Recording - it's a Matter of Experience

One of the great benefits of training at Woodfines is the high level of hands on experience you get from the very start of your training contract. This is an excellent opportunity for any trainee and although at times it can seem daunting, it is a good way to learn and to prepare you for qualification.

When I was a student I had, in theory at the least, infinite time to complete tasks, time was an enigma. Suddenly you are working in your training contract and you meet your first potential client, either in person or over the phone and they ask how much is the work going to cost? You ask your supervisor and they respond by asking, how long do you think it is going to take? It’s difficult to gauge when you have little experience and the only way to get good at it is through experience. Suggest too little time and you will either cost the firm money or feel under huge amounts of pressure to complete the task before the time your have suggested runs out. Remember the claim form and particulars of claim you were asked to draft during your LPC, remember how you agonised over each word and it took you about six hours over a one week period, now you need to do it in two hours.

You will quickly learn, especially training at a firm like Woodfines, with a hands-on approach for trainees and a broad client base, that time recording is an essential skill. Remember when your lecturer mentioned time recording for that split second during a lecture, and you used the brief pause to relieve the cramp in you writing hand, well it transpires that time recording is a very important skill. After all, if you don’t record the work you undertake on behalf of clients, how can you bill for the work that you do? In essence we sell our expertise and the time it takes to undertake a job is the ‘stock’ on our shelves.

Sometimes it is possible to provide a fixed fee quote. Such quotations are something that you would normally get experience producing during your training contract. You have to assess the time the work will take and include all the potential disbursement costs, such as court fees or land searches. You will learn how to do this best by listening and discussing matters with your supervisor. The ability to make an accurate estimate and therefore provide a reliable fixed fee quotation is a skill that you will develop with the support of your training provider.

Fixed fee is increasingly attractive to clients, although not always possible; this is because it is clear from the start how much the work will cost. Even if you train in a firm that does not offer fixed fee, the ability to make accurate cost estimates is a useful skill to learn. This is because clients will want to know how much the work you are completing for them will cost at each stage.

Time recording is an essential part of being a solicitor and not necessarily something you will learn at University. It is something that you will pick up on very quickly once you undertake your training contract, especially if you choose a firm that offers hands on experience, like Woodfines.

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