Law, like life, requires you to stand up and challenge yourself

By Jerome Doraisamy|02 July 2020
Danny Rod

Starting a new boutique firm at this time sends a powerful message, Danny Rod says: that lawyers can and will be truly different in how they serve clients moving forward.

Sydney-based family lawyer Danny Rod takes inspiration from former US president Theodore Roosevelt, who once espoused: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”.

Whilst we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, Mr Rod told Lawyers Weekly, there can and should be a focus on the “amazing changes” currently being witnessed across the marketplace.

“Law, like other industries, is waking up to the idea that lawyers are human and so are their clients. Opening a boutique practice [at] this moment, sends a powerful message – namely that we are not going to do things the old way by seeing clients and matters as simply transactions, but we are going to be truly different by looking at them and their needs individually,” he proclaimed.

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“There is no right time to start a business, and you will never truly be ready to begin a new venture without believing in what you do. The question is not whether one can start a business during a recession and a pandemic, but rather how can we as lawyers adapt to hard times and challenges by embracing them and leaning in. We can do better. We can thrive. We just need to adapt and lean in.”

His new firm, Rod Legal Advisory, will focus primarily on family law, with the intention of helping clients navigate separation at this most turbulent and volatile of economic and social junctures.

“Whilst there is obviously going to be practical challenges arising from social distancing and rising case numbers in Victoria, by operating as a virtual firm, I will be able to see clients remotely – but also in places that make them feel more comfortable, like a coffee shop or outdoor café,” he mused.

“Law needs to be made more accessible to clients and I believe the best way to make a meaningful connection and help clients is when you meet them on their level and in an environment that is not as confronting to them.

“Maybe the pandemic, through all its social distancing, will actually bring people closer together and foster greater communication.”

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Either way, Mr Rod noted, family law is a practice area currently facing “unprecedented levels of growth”.

“People are living with horrific family violence, which is exacerbated by financial pressure, and further exacerbated by being forced to quarantine in close confinement with the perpetrator of the family violence. There is a need for practitioners who can respond quickly, in a delicate and sensitive manner, to the needs of people who are separating,” he outlined.

“People also don’t want to go to [court] and wait [for] an unreasonable amount of time for their matters to be finalised and so, resultantly, we will see more people exploring other forms of dispute resolution such as [collaborative law, mediation, and arbitration], particularly in the family law arena. This will lead to lower costs, greater dignity for parties, and less trauma for all involved.

“To me, this seems like the ideal result for anybody that is separating, and it makes sense to advocate for this approach to practice especially during these uncertain times.”

When asked why other young practitioners should be unafraid to go out on their own, as he has done in the midst of a pandemic, he said there is a “real and pressing need” for high-quality boutiques that utilise technology to be agile and efficient but remain reasonably priced.

“When working for larger firms, you’re limited in what you can say or do outside of work hours because ultimately, you represent a firm. Lawyers are beginning to recognise the need to be their authentic selves and be able to choose how they wish to run their practice. It’s easier to work for somebody else. It’s less stressful. There’s more security,” he explained.

Life isn’t about remaining stagnant or not challenging yourselves, Mr Rod posited.

“If you can run a practice within an existing law firm, it’s no stretch to be able to do it for yourself. You can work with your existing contacts and referral networks to leverage them to attract more business. Get involved in local community organisations and join the boards of charities because you have the ability to manage your own time without being beholden to billable hours targets and being tied to a particular office.”

“Doing so will enable you to be able to contribute to society and gain valuable contacts that will help you set up your own practice,” he concluded.

The launch of Mr Rod’s firm follows last month’s report on Helen Kay launching her own firm, Rise Legal, following a pandemic-inspired redundancy.

Law, like life, requires you to stand up and challenge yourself
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