TWO York lawyers have decided to shake up the traditional family law practice by working for a fixed fee, instead of an hourly rate.

James Thornton and Frank Arndt are now managing partners in their new firm Paradigm Family Law LLP.

Set up at the end of 2014, the firm is now up for Small Business of the Year and New Business of the Year at the Press Business Awards.

Mr Thornton and Mr Arndt are experienced lawyers, both having been partners at Stowe Family Law in Harrogate.

They were struck by the "apparent dichotomy" between working effectively for a client and charging hourly, saying that efficient and expert work is "entirely at odds with the profit driven nature of billing on the basis of time spent on a case".

Based in Blake Street in the centre of York, the duo say they are pioneers, being the only niche family law firm in the country offering a fixed fee service for all divorce proceedings from start to finish.

They calculate the cost of any work using a secret formula they have devised, which "values the matrimonial assets and applies multipliers relevant to the issues in the case".

This formula is now in high demand, and Mr Thornton and Mr Arndt say they have received requests from lawyers in America and Europe asking for the details of the formula - so that they may replicate it in their own practices - but the pair are not giving anything away.

Mr Thornton said: "We believe that the proof is in the pudding. Since starting our practice, all of our clients have chosen to retain us on the fixed fee basis rather than using hourly rates.

"We are an ambitious firm, and are looking to grow. We already have a satellite office in Westminster, and are considering expanding into Harrogate and Leeds.

"We also wish to apply our fixed fee to other areas of law, such as wills and probate. The fixed fee model can be adapted to cover these areas and marks a refreshing departure from the old hourly rate method."