Brendan Hanks

I have been working with Rachel since 2003, I promised her I would stay for 12 months however I’m still here. We have worked together from Rachel Stubbs and Associates as a start-up through to it having three offices and nearly 30 staff. I have seen almost 8700 family law matters pass through our business but sadly only a couple of handful of clients that though that time felt the Family Law system worked for them.

When I have discussions with other business owners in the Family Law system they had a very similar experience. Owners who manage these businesses well find it financially rewarding but emotionally unfulfilling. On one occasion I was speaking to another owner and I enquired how things were, he responded “great.. all my clients love me, and they love paying their bills” I knew he was being facetious, his clients were not happy not because of him but they all hated the system. I hated the system as well. Its very hard to sell a service that you don’t believe in. Working in such a negative field affected not only clients but our staff and how other professionals reacted to each other.

After 15 years in Sydney and its surrounds we decided to make a move north to Brisbane and spent a year trying to regather ourselves and refocus back into Family Law. Not surprisingly there was still no love for the system, the problems were the same, the clients were still angry, the court lists were still long. The only thing that had changed was us (and the weather).

One morning I decided to run a small campaign on some fixed fee services, initially we targeted Divorces and Consent Orders. Both considered the bottom end of the feeding pyramid in Family Law. After only a couple days I realised that this was different, the conversations were different, the clients attitude was different. Our fees were fixed – the money discussion was easy the scope of work was defined so everybody knew where they stood. The clients were not angry – separated yes – divorced maybe not yet but eventually. They all had come to us with an agreement for us to document so that they can finalise their financial arrangements and move on. Most of these clients have kids so they will be dealing with each other for another decade or more. They all are polite and courteous. I didn’t know these clients existed, well I did but when you specialise in litigation clients in time become angry.

I enjoy talking with clients about consent orders, about making sure that we are the solution for them. I enjoy not having to justify a system and therefore the associated legal fees. Most people work in a field that provide a positive outcome for clients and now so do I. If you need help to finalise your agreement I would love to help you, please don’t forget to laugh and smile, you are just going through another stage in life and nothing is permanent and certainly nothing involving family law.

Keep the outcome in your hands not the courts.