With the exception of particular expenses such as filing fees or name-search costs, the Michael Walker Law Office does not charge for everyday disbursements. Other law firms may charge for postage, long-distance calls, telefaxes, mileage and even photocopies; we do not. We've made this business decision for a number of reasons. One, we want to distinguish ourselves from other more expensive law firms in Toronto. Two, it is inefficient and time-consuming to try to keep track of those types of expenditures and assign them to particular clients and files. Most importantly, we view those kind of expenses as the cost of running our business and not something which law firms should still pass on to their clients. In our view, it is inappropriate and, in the long run, simply bad business to "nickel and dime" your customers this way. This policy is part of the firm's overall approach to customer service.... working with our clients to keep them out of trouble and keep them in business and doing that as economically as possible.
Harmonized Sales Tax
Our Canadian clients are painfully aware that the federal government now requires us to add a new 13% Harmonized Sales Tax to our invoices. We are obliged to collect that money from our Canadian clients and remit it to the government. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do about that. But the Michael Walker Law Office has made a decision not to charge HST to our American clients. Many firms do charge the 13%. Presumably they remit it to the government and hopefully they advise their clients on how they can apply to get that money refunded. We have decided not to make our US-based clients jump through those hoops just to get their own money back. Cash-flow is always a problem in the transportation industry- and unnecessary paperwork is an even bigger problem. We think our friends south of the border appreciate this policy and we believe it is just common sense and good business.
Hourly Rate vs "Flat Rate" Billing
Michael's hourly rate is $285.00. This may seem high but, in comparison to other lawyers with more than 30 years of experience, the amount is very competitive. In fact, some of Michael's former partners are now charging upwards of $450.00 an hour. In any event, the Michael Walker Law Office rarely bills by the hour. In our view, that only encourages counsel to work slowly and inefficiently. Whenever possible, Michael will quote a "flat rate" for the services to be rendered (a CVOR Application, an EPCL registration, an "Unsafe Vehicle" defence etc...) in order to give clients the certainty and predictability a business needs in assessing whether or not to incur these costs. We don't work on a contingency basis but we are always willing to revise our quote and our invoice on those rare occasions when our efforts on behalf of our clients are not successful. Thankfully, that is almost never necessary.