I need advice on my IT contracts but from time to time I need help in other areas that you don’t focus on, how do you deal with that?
We have worked hard to establish a network of specialist advisers that can assist our clients with associated areas such as corporate law advice. We know the legal market well and we are well placed to find the best advisers, rather than being constrained to using an in-house colleague. We are happy to project manage this advice or pass on referral details so you can work directly with our network, it really depends on the nature of the particular job.
You are a smaller firm than we currently use, how can we be sure that you can resource our work?
Although our total staff numbers are smaller than the majority of our competitors, its important to look at how many dedicated IT lawyers a large firm can field. If you do this analysis you will soon see that firms claiming to have hundreds of lawyers actually have a team that is comparable in size to our firm, and in many cases, smaller and less experienced. In addition large general practice firms have proportionally more clients to service and therefore have their own resource constraints.
We recruit slightly ahead of our demand curve because we are confident that our practice will continue to grow. This means that we carry some capacity to assist with demand peaks. In any event we will always tell our clients in advance if we feel we would be unable to meet their time-scales.
You’ve got all this great experience working for large organisations, but we’re a startup. Are you set up to provide us advice?
Absolutely, we have a large number of startup and SME clients and we are able to offer them access to top quality expertise at accessible cost. We usually carry out work for them on a fixed price basis. It is hugely satisfying to us when we see one of our smaller clients grow.
How will you manage my account?
One of the key advantages we have is that we use a focused team for each client. You will not be passed around lots of different lawyers, having to explain your business to each one. Typically our clients work with one or two of our people. Our philosophy to account management is “no surprises”. We are upfront about costs and we report regularly against estimates. We do not exceed estimates without discussing this with our clients.
Will I get senior level attention on my files?
Yes, every client has a senior attorney who is responsible for their account management.
I have a deal that involves international elements, can you cover this?
As we are a South African law firm we are only qualified to practice under the law of South Africa. However, we are often involved in international projects and we have established a network of similar firms in key overseas jurisdictions to provide local law advice where required.
Do you work mainly for suppliers or users of IT services?
We work with both, historically we have done slightly more work with suppliers. However, the user side is catching up and for example we have key clients in the financial services sector.
What is your policy on conflicts of interest?
We adhere firmly to the Law Society’s rules and guidance on conflict issues. Given the small size of the practice, the firm does not purport to be able to use mechanisms like “Chinese walls” to deal with conflict issues, and this does mean that we sometimes have to decline instructions from our clients. If any conflict or potential conflict is identified, then this will be promptly communicated to the client.