Sample Legal Award Writing

Lawyers Weekly Dispute Resolution Partner of the Year Australian Law Awards 2019

Detail outstanding work over 2018 that demonstrates excellence in your specific area of practice:

In 2018 I led the {CLiENT} dispute resolution team in acting on behalf of a multinational advertising and print media client in the payment services industry.
The client had received a letter of demand from an Australasian mail order fashion and homewares retailer, citing in excess of $19 million in damages, for allegations including breach of contract and misleading or deceptive conduct under Australian Consumer Law.
I was called to immerse myself in the client’s business, advising on an urgent basis as a contract dispute was entered into, with the commencement of hard fought and lengthy litigation seemingly imminent.

As a lawyer with extensive firsthand experience of the litigation treadmill and its negative impact on business and personnel, I am passionate about avoiding the process.
Instead I commit to resolving disputes through proven strategies designed to shorten my clients’ exposure.

“Business disputes can be financially and emotionally draining, and there are layered moving parts to consider and manage. I enjoy pulling the problem apart, and designing and implementing an effective strategy to see my clients through as unscathed as possible.”

A course of action necessitating sophisticated analysis of potential outcomes, and an in depth understanding of the dynamic, psychology and resulting developments at key high pressure times, in order to prepare for them.

Defining the objective for my team in this instance as the effective management of the client’s concerns and expectations, I facilitated the strategic processes of mediation and negotiation in order to avoid litigation.

In achieving the subsequent successful resolution to the dispute, I secured a client pay out of just 3% of the initial claim, and a fraction of the originally estimated legal costs with the matter avoiding litigation and trial.

It is also crucial to note that the nature of this settlement meant both parties were able to continue with their longstanding commercial partnership at its conclusion.

In the words of {CLiENT} Group Legal Manager “Thank you for your efforts and effective strategy on this. I am extremely pleased that we are not looking down the barrel of some lengthy litigation! It’s a great outcome, especially when you think about where we started from and how it could have gone.”

A testament to my firm belief in extricating clients from complex broken partnerships and steering them to a position from which they can amicably resume operations with the other party.

What were the main challenges you encountered in completing this work? How did you successfully overcome these?

The facts and relevant law of this matter were intricate and complex.
My client was alleged to have failed to fulfil agreed printing and distribution services with the resulting indirect and direct losses cited to exceed $750,000 in lack of sales for the other party.

The first challenge encountered here related to the fact that the contract had been in existence for many years and arguably both parties had mutually agreed to vary the conditions by a consistent course of conduct.

Adding another layer of complexity, the client was owed approximately $150,000 for services already provided under this agreement.

In addition, although the business relationship was effectively coming to an end as a result of the dispute, my client wished to preserve it, if possible, so that a future contract could be secured should the outcome be sufficiently favourable to both parties.

Challenges that were all successfully overcome by dismantling the bigger picture in order to address each specific element. First setting reasonable expectations around what could be achieved legally, next communicating the proposed plan of action and methodically working through options and scenarios, informing a clear, concise decision making process.

The key component throughout this process is of course the undertaking of tactical negotiations. Prudently facilitated they lay the foundations for a smooth transition to the resumption of a partnership, irrespective of the matter at hand once concluded.

Steps which on this occasion culminated in resolution of the dispute on extremely favourable terms for the client; with the other party agreeing to waive any claim against our client and agreeing to pay approximately 70% of the outstanding invoices.

How has your leadership shaped the culture and strategy of your practice group?

I would describe myself as leading from the front, setting the tone, attitude, energy and drive I wish to see reciprocated by my team. Holding myself to the same standard I hold my peers accountable to, and ensuring my experience, advice and mentorship are available to them, both in person and in print.

By writing articles for publications such as the Governance Institute of Australia, ExpertsDirect, and The Institute of Building Consultants this year I have opened the door for others in my team to represent the firm with presentations, training events and related networking ventures.

I have also actively sought to create a culture of networking within the practice by collaborating with our property development team to develop a series of client facing seminars. An initiative that has raised the profile of {CLiENT} and of the departments and individuals within.

As a result of these activities, fee earners in the team are now driven to operate with excellence in the areas of organisation, performance, team work and collaboration.

The fruits of a proactive focus on managing my people as well as my business. Of targeting areas for growth and development, encouraging autonomy and rewarding innovative thinking in a team dynamic.
The sustained growth of the business as initiatives I set in place continue to raise awareness for the firm is the realisation of a conscious and calculated strategy to positively impact the culture at {CLiENT} over the last twelve months.

**************************************************

$100 wittner refund

Lawyers Weekly Workplace Law Partner of the Year Australian Law Awards 2019

Detail outstanding work over 2018 that demonstrates excellence in your specific area of practice.

A finalist in the Partner of the Year awards 2018, {CLiENT} draws on over 20 years of employment and industrial law experience and views his relationship with clients as a partnership focused on delivering strong outcomes and positive productive workplaces.
An exceptional lawyer, fervent in the pursuit of excellent service for his clients, he notably instils the team maxim ‘making workplaces work and business and people prosper.’
In 2018 {CLiENT} was instructed by a client to investigate the practices of a highly specialist employee which were deemed contrary to contractual and legislative obligations.
To his credit, {CLiENT} succeeded in delivering a legal and managerial strategy to cease these practices, after several years of failed attempts to regulate this behaviour.
The result of a sophisticated approach involving clearly communicated complex advice on contractual and statutory interpretation, in an industrial context.
Through the implementation of this strategy, other related matters such as potential misconduct were also discovered. In response {CLiENT} deployed mediation before moving to conclude the matter by provoking an industrial claim, strategically utilising the services of an industrial tribunal.
Ultimately {CLiENT} negotiated an agreed separation, within tight parameters.
“By playing good cop bad cop with senior counsel, we were able to negotiate a separation on extremely favourable terms.” An outcome which saved the client in excess of $300,000 in legal fees, relieved anxiety and stress for staff, and enabled the client to restore services.
Also in 2018, {CLiENT} was instructed to investigate and resolve the alleged online and in person bullying of a female Chief Executive Officer by a faction of the Board and members of a quasi-political organisation. An organisation now facing an expensive and explosive claim, adverse media attention, and potential liability for over $1 million in damages.
During these thorough investigations {CLiENT} found extensive and serious bullying.
Instructed to deal with the immediate risk, he shadow wrote succinct letters of caution, quelling existing behaviour, and convinced members of the faction to resign from Board positions. All while sensitively negotiating a settlement with the CEO to resolve any future legal claims.

Upon conclusion {CLiENT} delivered a detailed 60+ page report with governance and legal recommendations. Suggestions which were implemented by the newly constituted Board, within the terms of the Constitution, and which continue to this day to improve the organisation’s processes for avoiding future such behaviour..

What were the main challenges you encountered in completing this work? How did you successfully overcome these?

For the first matter, the initial challenge was assisting the client in understanding that although the specialist had requisite skills there was an incompatibility with customer needs as well as with organisational functions under legislation.
Feedback received as I identified missed opportunities to deal with the matter and outlined the proposed strategy moving forward included “your guidance and advice was consistently helpful during some particularly testing times.”
Validation of my commitment to providing advice and guidance grounded in the real world.

As expected, the managerial strategy, when implemented, was met with resistance and consequently once negotiations began the employee proceeded to change representatives on four separate occasions.
Developments which made it crucial to maintain focus on the real issues, undeterred by compounding factors – namely the questionable misconduct and incontrovertible unlawful work practices. Issues I negotiated extensively with representatives; drafting various correspondence, and consistently refocusing the debate.
Once the industrial claim was provoked we were committed to strategically resisting an interlocutory hearing and dispute proceedings, in order to enable settlement negotiations to occur on more favourable terms for our client.

A chess like plan of action which, once successful, allowed the industrial tribunal to deal starkly with the issues at hand, leading to a favourable resolution with a settlement reached in due course over the next month of negotiations.

In the second matter, the main challenge was addressing the outdated views of Board members that certain behaviour is ‘fair game’ when questioning a CEO and her performance. Familiar with advising on employment in challenging and sensitive cases I instinctively engaged in robust and vigorous questioning. Breaking down actions and motives during the investigation and concisely making the point that concerns about performance do not give free reign to publicly and personally attack another, particularly given the political nature of the organisation.
I had to be responsive when my actions were questioned, and forthright when challenged by those ultimately instructing me.
In doing so I earnt respect for my signature decisive action, and for swiftly getting to the point and cutting to the core issues.

On a personal note the compassionate negotiations with the outgoing CEO provided a deep level of satisfaction at the conclusion of this matter. With delivery and implementation of the final report and recommendations I feel assured it concluded with the application of holistic and lasting solutions to this workplace issue.

How has your leadership shaped the culture and strategy of your practice group?

“The reward in my job is being able to make a difference.
My role at Bartier Perry is to drive and lead a team of specialist workplace lawyers to create a leading workplace law practice.”

With this in mind, the effect of my leadership on our own workplace culture is to set the bar for employer excellence and employee satisfaction.
With the introduction of flexible working and support for embracing alternative arrangements such as working remotely and alternating days we are experiencing excellent engagement and retention and zero staff turnover in the last two years.

I am profoundly serious about diversity and gender equality.
{CLiENT} promoted its first female shareholder this year – from our workplace law & culture team. My team has grown rapidly to a diverse, inclusive group of 11 staff, 55% of whom are female, a quarter LGBIT, and a majority are from ethnic backgrounds.
The consultants in our team are also retired staff as I endeavour to retain experience for junior staff and client knowledge.

In building this specialist, handpicked team I developed the ‘helping workplaces work and business and people prosper’ maxim. By consciously working to uphold what is essentially our brand statement I have taken steps to strategically raise awareness of our team’s capabilities and to better align our name and our achievements with the workplace and law community.

Major clients include multiple NSW Government departments and agencies, international medical and pharmaceutical companies, many FMCG organisations and local councils – and we are ecstatic to be named {CLiENT}’s Recommended Employer Focus Law Firm 2019.

I have led the workplace and culture team in taking significant strides in increasing {CLiENT}’s pro bono output.
In FY18 our team alone completed double the hours of FY17 with 215 pro bono hours between 11 of us – and I am understandably proud to have completed 53 of these myself.
In addition we are now a panel member of the Fair Work Commission Workplace Advisory Panel, with various team members volunteering to provide pro bono legal advice and representation to applicants and small businesses in need of employment advice on roster, 3 weeks a month at legal centres across Sydney.

Complementing these endeavours I encourage our team to embrace involvement in firm activities, with one of our Associates the current chair of the D&I Committee, and others also involved with pro bono and corporate social responsibility committees.