find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Savvy clients reject wordy legal advice

Savvy clients reject wordy legal advice

The lawyer's wordy legal advice, handed to clients as inch-thick dissertations, is under threat.

THE lawyer's wordy legal advice, handed to clients as inch-thick dissertations, is under threat.


Once the domain of the thorough law firm-employed lawyer, long-winded and legal-jargon packed advice is being purged by many clients and lawyers, replaced by a new type of legal advice. 


Economy-bruised clients are demanding efficient and pithy executive summaries that are commercially eloquent and business focused, top legal eagles are claiming. 


Freehills partner Michael Vrisakis, who works in the firm's financial services and insurance practice, says the days when lawyers wrote formal advice on letterhead paper, sprawling pages and detailing legal lexicon and legislation, are over.  


"I was recently giving some advice to a client and there was another entity wanting to invest in this clients. They asked for a copy of the advice. But when I gave it to them they said 'no we want the real advice, not the cut down advice'. I can only think their lawyers' usual style is in excess of 15 pages, and mine was a four page memorandum as the client had wanted," he said today. 


"So it really struck me that from my perspective there is a lot more focus and interest by clients in having shorter and more distilled advice."


Vrisakis said that while lawyers will always cater advice to particular clients, in the past legal counsel would have accepted the various provisions of the law being cited to them, now they're saying 'we know what the provisions of the Corporations Act are, distill down the issues and tell us what to do'". 


John Chisholm, a former Middletons chief executive who now runs a business advising law firms on practice management, said clients often want just a punchy executive summary. 


This move to more pithy, summarised advice can also go against the grain for many lawyers, said Chisholm. "Lawyers sometimes suffer from the affliction where the advice they give is not understandable. The private practice lawyer may be thinking the client wants a thesis, but that is not always the case," he said. 


"Many times this search for excellence and perfection is we we as lawyers want, and I was the same. We needed to cover off everything. Dot every 'i' and cross every 't'. But things are changing. It still has to be accurate of course," he said. 


But many law firms will resist this move because it raises problems with time-based billing. 


The concept that the shorter the advice the less time billed may leave some firms wanting to give long-winded advice. But, being a staunch opponent of time-based billing, Chisholm said firms need to ask their clients what sort of advice they want, and work out a billing method accordingly. 


Clients appreciate that there is a lot of work behind the scenes, said Vrisakis. "Sometimes it takes more time to distill things into that channeled form. But clients are repeatedly saying 'we don't want a thesis'," he said. 




Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Savvy clients reject wordy legal advice
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...