One size does not fit all
Professional advice is not a ready-made “product”. At Dwyer Lawyers, we seek to provide the best quality legal advice by understanding our clients’ individual, family and business needs. By working closely with our clients and giving them the dedicated personal attention that only a small firm can give, we help them achieve their personal and family goals.
We also work with our clients’ financial advisers to provide particular specialized advice where and when required. We are used to working with financial planners and accountants.
It’s the value of advice which counts
While we all like to save money, one can be “penny wise and pound foolish”. A simple will can be done for relatively little money but will it ensure that there are no tax traps or family maintenance traps left for you or your spouse? What are the CGT implications? Can anyone challenge the will? Will it ensure assets are protected?
Sometimes simpler and cheaper is better. If A is married to B and there are no dependants or former ex-partners and the assets are uncomplicated, a simple will may be as much as you need.
Where clients wish a simple will and do not wish to consider estate planning we are happy to prepare a simple will.
But life is often not “simple”. There may be former partners who may claim against the estate to your detriment or that of your spouse (whoever is the survivor). There may be guaranteed debts of a business which could bite yet there may be assets such as superannuation or life insurance policies which can be protected from such claims against you or your partner’s estate.
We are happy to answer inquiries on a “no obligation” basis.
If we think we can help you, we will discuss it with you in conference on a professional basis.
Where work is likely to cost more than $1650 (including GST) we will ask you to sign a written retainer setting out what we will do for you and our obligations to you.
House Calls and Inter-State Visits
It used to be common for family solicitors to attend upon clients to obtain their instructions e.g. to discuss will preparation or to witness signing.
We believe in old-fashioned personal service. We still do.
Once we have a client relationship established with you, we are happy, where mutually convenient, to attend upon clients at home or at their offices or to visit them inter-state.
We realize that it is sometimes difficult, for example, for elderly people or for couples with young children to visit solicitors in town. Important documents like wills or other estate planning documents may need to be prepared and signed and a house call may be the most convenient for all concerned.
Time billing or fixed fee?
Lawyers traditionally bill by time and that is the method adopted by Courts. However, it is also possible to agree a fixed fee for a job. We are happy to discuss with you what your preferences are.
Fixed fees are more administratively convenient all around but they do require the delivery of a specified result, which is not always easy to define.
But more important than cost is the question of value for money. Research can take time and be costly but if $10,000 worth of careful research saves you $120,000, you would hardly complain. Or if $2,000 spent reading the fine print of a tax treaty shows that 3 years of income is taxable in country A rather than country B and the saving is $50,000, again you would hardly complain.
Legal Ethics and lawyer-client privilege
Everything you tell us in seeking advice is protected by legal professional privilege. We cannot and will not divulge the contents of your communications or of our advice to you to anyone without your express consent – including to Courts, Tribunals, or government agencies. It is a fundamental principle of legal practice that everyone should be free to find out about his or her legal rights without being prejudiced by so doing. It is in the public interest that people be free to get advice without fear or favour about their legal obligations or rights without being exposed to penalty for doing so.
While the phrase “legal ethics” is often seen as an oxymoron like “military intelligence” or “political science”, proper lawyers take legal ethics and legal etiquette quite seriously.
Lawyers have duties – both to the law and to their clients. Lawyers are not agents of government authorities, but of their clients. But lawyers are also officers of the Court and serve their clients within that framework.
While there are various rules, the fundamental and most obvious rule of legal ethics is that your lawyer does not lie to you, or for you. We have no difficulty with this wholesome rule and we do not expect our clients to have any difficulty with it.
A second basic rule is that client communications with their lawyers are privileged and cannot, without the consent of you, as the client, be divulged – to anyone, including government authorities, reporters, tax collectors or whoever. Clients are entitled to keep their thoughts to themselves, including any thoughts they may have shared with their legal advisers.