Stop Collaborate and Listen
In 2008 we launched a new family law business specialising in and focussing on out of court solutions, called Consensus Family Lawyers. Consensus was well received by our clients and our referrers and the practice moved well into emerging and modern areas of family law including negotiating and drafting complex agreements and collaborative divorce.
Meanwhile, Farrar Gesini & Dunn remained successful with a focus on client-focussed family law litigation. The service we offer is to give our clients certainty about fees and clear and realistic advice about the process and the likely outcome. If we can manage expectations in those fields, then our clients are better equipped to deal with the inherent delay, cost, and emotional toll of litigation.
What we found, when reviewing the differences between the two practices, is that our lawyers at Consensus wanted more exposure to litigation and our lawyers at Farrar Gesini & Dunn wanted more exposure to collaboration. The skills that lend themselves to success in each type of practice are so easily and appropriately transferable to the other.
For clients, despite electing to pursue an out of court solution, that doesn’t mean it will continue that way. Conversely, a client who has been unwillingly brought into litigation should not have to ride the litigation bus until the matter concludes. By being clever, by being different, by adopting a modern and client-focussed approach to each situation, there is often something that can be done to improve a situation, accepting the fixed and variable aspects.
The many skills, lessons and techniques that we have learned through focussing on out of court solutions have been used with great success in litigation. In December 2011 Consensus, acting for a father, wrote to a mother proposing collaboration. She withheld the child which led to our client commencing proceedings. In the proceedings he sought a number of orders that went against the usual grain of litigation, about negotiation and positive parenting rather than the ordinary approach of positional negotiation. Ultimately he was successful in his application and the judgement focussed on his unusually positive and creative attempts to resolve the dispute.
Our tag line is “modern lawyers | real people”. This has a number of meanings. We are national leaders in our industry. We want to do things differently for our clients because we think using modern techniques of dispute resolution, and applying those modern techniques in a creative way in litigation and collaboration, is how we can achieve the best outcome for our clients.
Every day we see lengthy (and no doubt expensive) correspondence, discovery requests, court documents and demands from other firms. Those methods are, in our view, out of date and reflect a ‘standard’ approach to dispute resolution: that no matter the client, no matter the situation, lawyers go through the same routine and plod towards the same outcome.
We understand that our clients are real people; that a family law dispute can be crippling, both to our client’s financial position and emotional health; and that to some people, having to put their life on hold for years while their family law situation is resolved can have a destructive effect on so many other aspects of their lives including their jobs and relationships with their children. We will focus on the needs of each individual client, offer a fixed fee pricing structure that is clear and fair, and form a real relationship with each of our clients so that we can openly ensure we are doing the right job for them.
Our lawyers are real people too. We have a team of talented, committed and clever lawyers who have all contributed to this rebranding and are committed to making our firm the best in Australia. We believe that our work should support our lives. Our new business cards give personal insights to our lawyers, so as well as their legal expertise you might learn they’re a famed poodle owner, a baseball star, a globetrotter or our own madam butterfly.
We are all excited about moving into the next stage of our business and we can’t wait to share it with you and your clients.