christoph kueng finding the right lawyer transparency is lacking

Finding the Right Lawyer: «Transparency Is Lacking» spoke with Chistoph Küng, CEO of SKUANI and co-founder of the Swiss Legaltech Association, about finding the right lawyer, legal expenses insurance and the digital future of the legal sector. Mr. Küng, what are the most common mistakes made when choosing a lawyer?

Christoph Küng: The absence of transparency and comparability often result in the wrong choice of lawyer.

A lot depends on whether the choice is made by a legal expert (a general counsel, for example) or a layperson. General counsels know exactly what to look for in a legal services provider, and rarely make the wrong choice.

Other people, on the other hand, are often dependent on recommendations from colleagues. Naturally, such recommendations are highly subjective as they are based on those people’s individual experiences with different lawyers. This sequence tends to end with mandates being given to inappropriate legal services providers. We believe that approximately half of all legal mandates carried out by non-experts are given to the wrong lawyer for the job.   

What should you pay attention to when choosing the right lawyer?

There are primary and secondary criteria for choosing the right lawyer.

The primary criteria include a lawyer’s expertise, experience in specific sectors and market segmentation. A lawyer’s segmentation defines their legal focus.

Secondary criteria include language, region and character.

If you fail to consider those primary and secondary criteria when choosing a lawyer or consultant, there is a high chance of your missing the mark.

This often results in your paying more than necessary for services, feeling as though you are not getting the legal help you need or feeling that the lawyer does not end up meeting your expectations. The end result is unsatisfied customers.

How can you recognize an ineffective lawyer?

By making lawyer services comparable. In the near future we will also see which lawyers think in an enterprising way and develop a deep understanding of customers. Potential clients will favor those lawyers.

What are the costs of hiring a lawyer in Switzerland?

Consultation fees differ widely, with per-hour prices ranging from 100 francs to 1000 francs. Costs tend to be higher in urban centers likes Zurich and Geneva, and lower in more rural areas. Specialized attorneys charge higher fees than general practice attorneys.

How much could clients save?

Choosing the right lawyer will not always result in your paying lower fees. However, working with the right lawyer will be pleasant and efficient, and the client will feel understood. Most importantly: the results will meet the client’s expectations.

Is there insurance which covers the cost of lawyer fees?

Legal expenses insurance, depending on the type, covers legal consultation, legal compensation and lawyer, court and legal costs.

Are Swiss legal expenses insurance policies worth it?

Individual legal expenses insurance policies have their own sets of terms and conditions and potential policyholders should understand these. It is crucial that you have a clear understanding of what is covered and what is not in advance. Insurance companies often deny claims for the coverage of legal expenses because a specific situation is not covered by a policy. As long as the details of coverage are presented in a clear and easily-understandable way, legal expenses insurance can make sense in some cases.

What should I pay attention to when taking out legal expenses insurance?

One important criteria is whether or not you get free choice of lawyer. If this benefit is not included in your insurance policy, the insurance company will decide on a lawyer for you without discussion. This can result in your ending up with a less-then-ideal lawyer.

Currently there is also a trend towards insurers attempting to meet certain claims using their own in-house lawyers, but personally I do not believe in that business case. Banks have already tried to handle their customer’s legal consultation needs using internal legal and tax experts and were not successful. Both insurance companies and banks would do better to make use of external legal professionals.

Small and medium-sized businesses can generally benefit from solid debt collection insurance. For individuals, the legal expenses insurance included in health insurance policies is often more beneficial than a stand-alone policy.

You yourself have founded a startup in the legal services comparison sector. What is the benefit of using SKUANI?

SKUANI is an internet portal which provides an entry point for those looking for consultation regarding legal matter, taxes, trusts, retirement and accounting. SKUANI helps you quickly find the best-fitting expertise for your needs. The portal is international and multi-lingual.

Additionally, SKUANI is the first portal which lets you find expertise by segmentation, thus letting you search for the best match for your mandate based on all primary criteria. The secondary criteria for mandates – with the obvious exception of approachability – are also shown. In the not-too-distant future we will add the approachability criteria as well.

SKUANI offer consultants the opportunity to list their profile, expertise, engagement and consultation services (whether traditional consultation or new products) on a high-frequency platform and to market themselves.

SKUANI offers large companies and branch organizations a white-label, B2B product. We customize SKUANI to meet the individual needs of a company – or its legal, tax or compliance departments. This gives them an efficient and affordable way to find and interact with the right external experts.

In your opinion, how will the way in which we mandate legal work change in the future?

In the future, lawyers will increasingly play the role of a coach or problem solver, working on a flat-fee or as part of a project. The hourly billing model will come under increased pressure. In the future, lawyers will be measured by their performance rather than time spent solving the problem.

Furthermore, technological developments are raising client’s expectations regarding the reachability and availability of lawyers. Additionally, parts of the mandating and communication processes will be performed via online channels., October 3 2016

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