How we work
The point of departure for us when assisting clients is our fundamental values, as shown in About Lebenberg, which govern our day-to-day business:
Our experience in providing legal services for private individuals has also shown the importance of personal chemistry, clarity and dialogue between ourselves and the client within the framework of our assignment. Consequently, we always start a new assignment with a personal meeting whenever possible; this is then followed up with a written confirmation of engagement. During the course of the assignment we always strive to keep the client well informed about the progress of the case.
For more information on this topic, see links below and About Lebenberg.
Agreement with the client
Our experience tells us that defining our client’s needs at an early stage in the assignment is a precondition to achieving client satisfaction. Therefore, at the start of a new client relationship, we always ensure that we spend sufficient time with our client establishing the client´s needs and defining our assignment.
Hence, when we receive an enquiry about a new assignment, we always endeavour to start with a personal meeting with the client. At this meeting, the client has the opportunity to describe his or her problem and we can explain our ability to assist in the case at hand. We can then decide on our possible assignment, our fees and how to move forward.
At the beginning of every new assignment, we also provide the client with a written confirmation of engagement, summarising our assignment and setting out our agreement concerning fees and limitation of liability.
In accordance with the ethical rules of the Swedish Bar Association, an advocate’s fees should be reasonable and take into account several factors. The crucial factors when determining a reasonable fee are, among other things, what has been agreed with the client, the scope, nature and level of difficulty of the assignment and the importance of the assignment for the client. The skill of the advocate, the result of the work and similar circumstances are also relevant when making this assessment.
At the beginning of every new assignment, we normally agree with the client on the basis for our fees and our invoicing routines. In our experience, it is often preferable to charge a fee based on how much time is spent on the case and we usually agree with the client on an hourly rate of SEK 1.875 to 4.000, including any VAT. However, we always assess the circumstances of each individual case.
When and how often it is appropriate to issue invoices in the course of an assignment depends on the nature and scope of the case.
For many cases that involve ongoing assistance, for example during an estate administration or a divorce where the scope of work to be carried out by the advocate is unclear, it is appropriate to have ongoing staged invoices during the course of the matter.
On the other hand, for other cases such as for example assistance in the event of a particular dispute or assistance when drawing up documents, it is often preferable to have a final invoice when the assignment has been concluded, sometimes combined with on-account invoices during the course of the matter. ‘On-account invoices’ means the invoicing of a cautiously estimated value of the work that has been performed up to the time of the invoice. Amounts that are invoiced on account are booked and deducted from the final invoice for the assignment.
In some cases the client may use private insurance to cover part of their costs for fees. Most home insurance policies actually contain a clause referred to as ‘legal protection’. The scope of legal protection varies somewhat between the different insurance companies, but there is usually a general precondition that the matter involves a dispute that can be considered by a general court. In addition, there are always a number of exclusions and restrictions for different kinds of dispute specified in the different insurance conditions. The applicable insurance conditions must therefore be considered in each individual case, to ascertain whether such legal protection insurance applies for a particular assignment.
We are willing to assist our clients in investigating the possibilities of utilising any legal protection insurance and, if the client so wishes, we can also take care of all of the contacts with the insurance company.
However, even in cases where legal protection can be used for part of the client’s fee costs, it must be noted that insurance companies normally only provide compensation of SEK 1.725 per hour, including VAT (2019). As indicated above, we normally charge an hourly fee that is higher than this. Therefore, the client must personally bear all of the additional hourly cost and similarly the deductible that the insurance company applies, even in those cases where legal protection is available for the assignment. Insurance conditions also contain a maximum indemnity limit, which unfortunately does not cover the cost of fees in many disputes.
Rules for advocate practice
As advocates and associates at advocate law offices, we are liable to comply with the Swedish Bar Association’s regulations and rules for advocate practice; for example, the ethical rules on good advocate practice standards. These include, among other things, rules on how advocate law offices should be run and managed and the duties of the advocate in relation to the client.
A cornerstone of the practice standards is that advocates are liable to be loyal to their clients only and act only in their clients’ best interests.
An advocate also has a statutory duty of confidentiality which means that he or she may not disclose anything that they have become aware of in confidence, except in very special circumstances governed by law. This duty of confidentiality also applies to the employees of an advocate, both associates and other staff.
Besides ethical rules on good advocate practice standards, the Swedish Bar Association also issues regulations on the administration of client funds and valuable documents and also on the practice’s bookkeeping, etc.
Chapter 8 of the Code of Judicial Procedure also governs the operations of advocates and every advocate is subject to the supervision of both the Swedish Bar Association and the Office of the Chancellor of Justice.
The Swedish Bar Association has set up a Consumer Disputes Board. The Board handles disputes regarding provided legal services. A prerequisite for the Board to consider the issue, is that an attempt has been made to resolve the matter by mutual agreement. A consumer in this context means any natural person who is acting for purposes which are outside the business and professional activities.
More information is available at www.advokatsamfundet.se/konsumenttvistnamnden/. The Board’s address is Konsumenttvistnämnden, Sveriges Advokatsamfund, Box 27321, 102 54 Stockholm.
You can read more about the advantages of engaging an advocate instead of another legal advisor under About Lebenberg.
Further education and membership
In accordance with the rules of the Swedish Bar Association, stating that an advocate must undertake at least 18 hours of structured education each year, we regularly participate in courses and attend seminars and conferences both in Sweden and abroad.
We are also members of various professional organisations such as the International Bar Association (IBA), the Nordic-British Lawyers Association and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
However, we have chosen not to become a member of any international legal network. This affords our practice the independence, in each individual case, to consider only our clients’ best interests when engaging additional advocates or other legal advisors that our clients may need in Sweden or abroad. Our extensive experience within our practice areas means that over the years we have established a large number of informal relations with colleagues around the world, and these resources are of course also available to our clients.
Processing of personal data
In the link below, you will find information about how we process personal data that has been provided to us, in accordance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation.