Why You Should See a Law Specialist and Not a Dabbler
Posted: 28th March 2015
Posted in: News
Posted by: Dean Evans, Partner
Beware of “discount” law firms or “dabblers”
I was recently contacted by a high school friend who had received a Claim and Statement of Claim at the reception of his small business. I say small business because the business comprises of a staff of he and his Wife that operates from his home. He makes a reasonable living, but with young children and a mortgage, he certainly does not have any spare cash to pay lawyers.
My friend was in a right flap, thinking that he was going to have to go to Court and that it was going to cost him a fortune. He asked if he could email the documents for me to have a look at. Whilst I was able to understand the basis for the claim, I had already identified that the area of law was outside of what I specialise in.
The importance of being an Accredited Specialist
Being an Accredited Specialist in Family Law, I recognise the need to specialise in a particular area of law so as to be able to efficiently and economically service clients’ needs. There is not a matter that comes across my desk where the issue or issues in contest have not already been handled by myself in a previous matter. What that means for clients is that immediately I am able to advise them of the law, how it applies to their situation and likely outcome or range of outcomes. I know how, procedurally, to deal with the issue, I know the type of application which is required and the evidence which needs to be gathered in support. I am not required to undertake hours of research and charge the client for the exercise nor do I need to defer to a Barrister for advice. In short, I can deal with the matter quickly and at minimum costs to the client.
Taking you back to my friend’s situation, I referred him to an Accredited Specialist in the area of law in which the Claim was based. I told my friend that this lawyer was very experienced, he looked after other clients of mine competently and he was an Accredited Specialist. My friend’s response was “how can I afford a lawyer like that!”.
Herein lies the misconception in the community about legal costs. My view is that members of the community are far better off in terms of costs and outcomes achieved if they consult specialist lawyers (when I say specialist, I am talking about specialist who have been accredited by the relevant state law society – not lawyers who say “I specialise in an area of law”). The specialist lawyers may have a higher hourly rate, but that does not necessarily translate to the legal costs being higher. In my experience, the reverse is true. A number of Accredited Specialists have a relatively small number of staff, low overheads and rely upon referrals rather than expensive marketing campaigns.
Why you should use an Accredited Specialist
I have observed a growing number of “discount” law firms being established. They often assert that they can assist in a great many and varied areas of law. They have fancy websites with a team of marketers who are clever in hammering their mantra of caring and costs conscious provision of legal services. I am very concerned about members of the community who take up legal representation by such Firms. Often these members of the community are neither financial nor legally sophisticated and they are vulnerable to these “discount” law firms and their marketing. Before they know it, they have achieved next to nothing, but have been charged a small fortune.
The law society has sought to protect the community through the Accredited Specialist initiative. Members of the community know that when they take up legal representation by an Accredited Specialist, they are the “best of the best” in that area of law.
Anyway, I am sure you are wondering how my friend ended up… He attended upon the specialist lawyer I referred him to. The Claim was identified by the specialist lawyer as being without merit. A strong letter was drafted responding to the lawyers acting for the Claimant, stating why the Claim was without merit and placing the Claimant on notice that costs would be pursued on an indemnity basis if the Claim was not discontinued. The Claimant discontinued the proceedings and the matter was concluded. I asked my friend how much he was charged, he said that he received an account for $550.