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How to choose an Australian lawyer – 10 things to look for in a law firm

How to choose an Australian lawyer – 10 things to look for in a law firm

  1. Results: The firm should have a strong track record of producing acceptable results for its clients. That might sound like a low bar to set, but when the facts of a matter are against you, it is not always easy to achieve. Obviously, a win is acceptable. Look for a Case Study or Practice Area summaries to see examples of the firm’s work.
  2. Reputation: The firm must have a reputation for honesty and strong drafting skills among its peers and clients that reflects well upon referral sources. Look for people with deep business experience able to understand all sides of a matter so that they understand the issues involved and where all the parties are coming from. At law firm Nicholas Weston, for example, Nick is a WIPO appointed neutral, chairs an ASX listed company and has won a number of awards as a lawyer. Google them or look at their LinkedIn profile to see what other people say about them.
  3. Partnership: Does the firm have a record of partnering effectively with international, national and regional firms when necessary on all kinds of matters with an Australian component? Ask.
  4. Relationships: Does the firm take a relationship, rather than a transactional, approach to working with its peers, clients and referrers? This works better for all involved over the longer term and you will get to spend time with people you know, like and trust.
  5. Proactive: Does the firm hang back and wait for trouble, or do they assist clients in the prevention and investigation of potential liabilities before they turn into court cases? Ask them if they have negotiated severance arrangements, releases, waivers and settlement agreements prior to the commencement of any litigation involving their clients. Do they ever ring you just to hear how you are going?
  6. Battle tested: The aim should always be to settle where appropriate but at the same time prepare for trial. Experienced litigators do not shy away from running a matter when a client wants a clear decision by the Court. Does the firm have at least one reported decision? Do they have a team of barristers they trust and rely on in particular types of case?
  7. Practical Nature: Are they practical? Do they put 12 people on a contentious file and milk it regardless of the merits, or subpoena everyone in sight, just to make budget this month? Do they have those kinds of billing pressures? The lawyer should ask you what you want, scope out the request in a retainer, then go seek it for you, within the estimate where possible, and tell you if the fee estimate is likely to be exceeded before the event, not after. Make sure they understand your budget, and nail them down to a number where that is possible.
  8. Value: Have a value conversation at the start of a matter, not later, so that there are no surprises. Make sure all of the firm’s invoices are always itemised.
  9. Legal Correctness: Correctly understanding the legal position ifs far more powerful than the size or name of the law firm. What do they say about the work they will do upfront to understand the correctness of your position? If your position is not strong, how confident are you that they will not run an unmeritorious argument and waste your time and money? Check they know the boundaries of privilege and other legal protections for witnesses and parties, and how to successfully use those shields as swords.
  10. Business though Personal: Does the lawyer deal with business and personal problems? Sometimes, little separates the business from the personal interests. Whatever the challenge confronting your business or personal life, do they have the ability to fuse law, technology and business to provide a practical solution? Do they understand how capital markets fit with your business and personal goals, how employee incentives shape company strategy as well as one’s personal affairs, how litigation integrates with business objectives, and how to look people in the eye and give it to them straight?

Look no further. At Nicholas Weston Lawyers, we score 10 out of 10. And every client’s account is managed by Nick Weston, no matter how small the account. To drill down on any of these criteria, Google us, look u sup on LinkedIn, ask around, check out our website at www.nicholasweston.com or email us at mail@nicholasweston.com or telephone us on +61 3 8616 0379 or within Australia 1300 132 551

  • 7 Nov, 2014
  • Posted by Nicholas Weston
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