Construction Legal Advice
A little while ago, I took the leap and brought myself a law practice. I previously wrote about that and indulged myself believing that I had something important to say and was able to give Construction Legal Advice. I found that exercise very helpful particularly in clearing my mind of unwanted clutter. So, I here I am again.
Now that my feet are under the desk of my new business, I pose myself yet another question: what’s next?
Now that the excitement of being my own boss again has worn thinner, the day to day tasks of running the business must be dealt with. I still find the law exciting and vibrant, I love analysing clients’ problems and dealing with even the most routine parts of being a lawyer, which by the way for the uninitiated is filling out forms. Or rather filling out forms correctly.
So, in order to run the business and give Construction Legal Advice, I have now had to take on all those additional necessary tasks which can so easily fill your day, attending to the trust account, dealing with accounts payable and more importantly receivable, making sure that I have enough money to pay the staff each fortnight. Those tasks, plus 100 more make up the everyday running of my practice and giving Construction Legal Advice. Funny I am not yet sick of saying ‘my practice’.
Now that I am the responsible adult, my first order of business was staff. My predecessor in the business retired and his only staff member, his daughter went off to purse greener pastures. During my practice management course, I was told that there is currently an oversupply of law graduates and I could literally take my pick. This sad state of affairs is potentially the subject of another separate blog, but in the meantime, I needed to find staff that I could rely upon and trust. Not just anyone, I was not about to choose someone just because they were a recent graduate, who would be among the many flooding the market in ever increasing numbers. While I am not unmoved by their plight I preferred somebody that I knew and I trusted.
My wife tells me that I am a creature of habit, and as per usual she is right. So, the prospect of hiring someone that I didn’t know, to work alongside me in a small office, was a very daunting task. Give me a couple of weeks to get used to a new person, and I can work with them. But day one and even week one is like walking on egg shells, not being sure of that person, or their preconceived ideals of being a lawyer. In my small office, I needed a combination, conveyancer, lawyer, PA, accounts person and just about anything else you could imagine. I needed a multitasking super graduate. I quickly came to the conclusion that I need more than just one extra person. So I decided that I needed a paralegal and a junior lawyer.
My step daughter is a third-year law student so I convinced her that working with me and being paid on a fortnightly basis was a good idea; step one, I now had a paralegal or rather one half of a paralegal. I now needed a lawyer who I could work with and more to the point; someone who could work with me. In my last position, I had come across a young lawyer, who impressed me with her work ethic and the fact that she was naturally smart. But she was also someone who when necessary was prepared to take instructions and work hard to get the job done. I discovered that she had left her last job and was currently looking for a new position. After a chance meeting, my junior came on board not long after I open the doors.
The final part of the initial staffing was a second paralegal to job share with my step daughter. Given that she was at university, working full time was out of the question, so I tasked her with finding her counterpart. She did that quite successfully and with that my initial staffing requirements were complete. I know that this will change, people will come and go, but at the moment at least I can look forward.
I look at the business I brought as a foundation. I was attracted to the location and the mix of work that it did.
Sandgate is a village, its 16km from the Brisbane CBD, but it does not look to the CBD for its existence, it functions independently. It is a community and the business that I brought was a part of that community, just as my new business is now also part of that community. I think that is an important thing, a business needs to have a presence, it needs to be a physical location that is on display. I see value in location and presence. Working in the CBD was almost like working in hiding, you walk into the lobby of a building, take a lift to the appropriate floor and work each day in isolation. Even the people in the next office are often strangers.
I can remember in 2013 after the siege in the Queen Street Mall, that day people started talking to each other, strangers connected. We were all joined by that one event and we all had something in common. It was a brief respite, the next day it was business as usual. But in Sandgate my business is part of the village and each day it is on display. Now I need to also become part of the business community of Sandgate. Maybe not living there will make that harder, maybe not. I like Sandgate and I like being part of the business community here. I can see that for the next foreseeable future both I and my business are tied to Sandgate.
Previously, the practice had done mainly residential and commercial conveyancing, leasing and some wills and estates work. I was attracted to the residential conveyancing, I saw that as weekly cash flow, and as we all know cash flow is oxygen, without it we die. The wills and estates work was also attractive and so I decided to take what my predecessor had created and look to mould it into an image more like mine.
We continue to do residential conveyancing and general commercial property work; the wills and estate part of the business is also growing. To some extent making a will goes hand in hand with the buying of property as one of those life changing events which makes us consider our mortality.
Building and construction law is hard to walk away from, it has been a part of my life since I was 16 and in many respects, it is a pair of old shoes, it fits very nicely and is comfortable to walk around in. But I do not believe in being a one trick pony, so as well as the building and construction legal advice I am also looking to add general commercial to the existing practice areas.
Now as the business goes it also matures and it will find its own presence. I will guide it, but as we grow we will change. I need to ensure that I don’t resist that change. I recently told somebody that one of my goals was to one day be told by the next generation that it is their time and I should get out of their way, good luck with that by the way. Until then the form and substance of this business is upon me. I build it and mould it to the shape that I desire or rather the
So; I have a practice, I have good people working with me, I have a location. In short, I have my foundation and it is time to build on that foundation.
That’s what’s next.
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