In what began as an experiment involving a number of our clients, we offered a legal retainer that created priority access to legal advice and value for money service that alleviated perceived fee uncertainty and bill shock. It was a great success, and we are now fully adept at proactively collaborating with businesses to provide a range of legal services in a cash flow predictable and friendly manner.
In this article, I’d like to provide insights on the types of legal matters, common and not so common, that business owners and their executive management teams must contend with, and often more frequently than they had imagined and what you can do to be prepared and prevent them escalating.
As a member of Executive Strategies’ specialist contributor panel, I frequently share articles and opinion on a range of legal topics relevant to executives and business leaders across health and medical, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals, construction, technology and mining and resources business sectors.
While some areas of business legal advice are obvious – employment law, insurance, contracts and resolution of disputes – others are less so. For example, in recent times, we’ve provided legal advice relating to the unusual, albeit a current issue, involving mandating Covid vaccinations and recent developments regarding requirements for independent contractors.
Regardless of what the legal issue might be, something fairly consistent we’ve observed is something of a general ‘head in the sand’ approach. That is, business owners and executives hope the issue will go away (but more likely, they are too busy to address it) and only deal with it when it can no longer be ignored.
Unfortunately, by that stage the issue has usually escalated and with it, the business owner or executive team has needed an elevated legal response involving disruption, time, money and sometimes, damaging public relations.
Our recently revised legal retainer model has overcome this approach as clients have a new urgency when dealing with issues as they have cost-effective and most importantly proactive access to our legal team when they need it.
The employment landscape is one particular area where we work closely in collaboration with our clients. We are first and foremost, available as our retainer arrangements enable us to offer advice quickly and share knowledge that can, and does, overcome issues before they escalate further.
The workplace is constantly changing and it’s made all the more challenging by ongoing changes to industrial relations and employment legislation. Legal issues and the advice needed is often specific to the needs of the industry, as is the case for the mining and resources sector for example.
Suffice to say, many business owners are blind-sided by emerging legal matters, and hamstrung by the urgency to react appropriately. They are often in this position because they do not have legal counsel at their disposal and this is often due to the fear associated with perceived cost. Again, having a legal services retainer in play that clearly provides for set costs, overcomes these issues.
In addition to providing affordable access to legal advice services, we also maintain a brief on developments in workplace legislation and case law.
This enhances our ability to respond quickly (i.e. cost effectively) and offer our clients appropriate and focused advice that can often be of a highly sensitive nature in a complex and ever-changing area of law.
Our employment law specialists commonly provide up-to-date and relevant legal advice and guidance for clients, employees and employers in in these key areas:
- Interpretation and application of the Fair Work Act and Awards and Enterprise Agreements;
- Preparation and/or review of employment contracts, particularly for executive personnel including profit share and share schemes;
- Advice regarding the rights and obligations of employers and employees;
- Advice and drafting of independent contractor agreements and fixed terms agreements;
- Legal advice and recommendations for protection from or defence of claims such as unlawful dismissal claims, general protection claims or discrimination claims;
- Drafting workplace policies and procedures for important workplace matters including equal opportunity; sexual harassment; dismissal; discipline; internet usage and company devices and property and advice regarding employee grievances and claims of workplace bullying.
As I mentioned at the outset, our approach is one of collaboration.
We are deliberately well informed of matters relevant not just to our clients’ businesses but the industries in which they operate.
Even though we are ‘external’ legal providers, we are very much considered part of our clients’ team. This professional closeness facilitates a more intimate understanding of our clients’ business affairs than can otherwise be achieved as ad hoc legal advisors, which adds considerable overall ‘value’ in terms of legal advice and services covered by the retainer.
Working in partnership with a business owners’ financial controllers and HR departments, and in larger organisations, with others in their external advice team such as accountants, HR consultants and other professionals, enables consistent, seamless and properly integrated solutions.
We offer a full range of legal services including Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Industrial Relations and Employment, Business Structuring, Finance, Debt and Capital Raising, a full suite of Corporate and Commercial services, Intellectual Property and Technology and Property and Projects.
Review the number of hours you and your executive team have dedicated to managing legal issues over the past 12 to 24 months as a direct management time cost, identify the type of issues you most commonly deal with and also add up how much you’ve paid in legal fees over that time.
Importantly, don’t avoid dealing with important legal matters and engaging a legal support because you are worried about what the cost ‘might’ be.
Finally, please make contact me with me for discussion about tailoring a legal retainer that is appropriate to your business and industry needs that’s cashflow friendly and affordable.
To learn more about our modern retainer approach to providing transparent ‘at call’ access to legal advice and services for your business or personal affairs, please contact Zac Herps please call +61 (0) 7 3007 2080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Strategies is a specialised information hub for executives and senior managers who may have founded their own business or who work for growing private, ASX listed companies or government businesses. Its purpose is to provide access to specialist advisers and information that addresses the often-complex issues affecting their personal prosperity.
The information in this article is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate, we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.