Setting up a successful law firm

Best practice for setting up a successful law firm

This all-day conference will give you the tools to set up a new firm or make your young firm thrive. The course is designed for anybody planning to open new firm, for those who own firms that's been operating for five years or less, and for practice managers or partners who assist with running those firms.

Unlike the Practice Management Course, which focuses on the rudiments for compliance with the requirements necessary to obtain an Unrestricted Practising Certificate, this course is designed to cover the details of setting up a firm. It will help you embed the elements needed to safeguard the pathway to a successful business, and will enable you confidently thrive in your new firm and practice.

The course sessions include:

  • Business planning and risk management
  • Policies and procedures
  • Adjusting your business strategy in times of change
  • Tax and compliance
  • Business budgeting
  • Supervision and appropriate training and mentoring of staff
  • Employment contracts
  • Marketing your firm

The course will close with a panel session of partners of successful local firms, who will discuss business planning and partnerships.

After the course, all participants will have access to an experienced consultant who will visit your business and provide you with a free confidential meeting to evaluate your set-up and give guidance on ways to move forward with your business plans.

Attendance at this course will also earn you 8.5 CPD points towards your CPD requirements for the year (0.5 units in Core Area 1, 0.5 units in Core Area 3, and 7.5 units in Core Area 2).


  • When: 7.30am-6.30pm, Thursday 27 August 2020
  • Where: East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston 
  • Meals and refreshments will be provided throughout the day
  • Members will earn 8.5 CPD units (0.5 units in Core Area 1, 0.5 units in Core Area 3, and 7.5 units in Core Area 2)
  • Cost (incl GST): $350 members, $455 non-members, $90 students/CLCs
  • Registrations close 19 August 2020

Fees are payable upon registration. 30 days payment invoices are available to members at the discretion of the Law Society. A 1.3% surcharge may be incurred on online payments. The Society reserves the right to cancel or alter events at its discretion, and in such circumstances, attendees will be notified via email.

Cancellation policy: All cancellations must be made in writing, and all cancellations will incur a fee, however, no charge will be incurred for substituting another person. Outside of the cancellation periods given below, a $10 administration fee will be incurred for any cancellation made. If a registered attendee fails to attend without notifying the Society in writing, no credit or refund will be offered and 100% of the total cost will be retained by the Society. CPD Events — In the case of CPD events, for cancellations made within two working days of the event, 50% of the total cost will be retained by the Society as a cancellation fee and the balance may be used as a credit towards other CPD events or be refunded. If you choose to keep a credit it will remain valid for 12 months from the event date, after which time it will expire. Webinars — In the case of live or on-demand webinars, as connection details are sent when registration is completed, no refund or cancellation is available. Social events — In the case of social events, no refund can be made after the RSVP date of the event.

Definitions: 'Registration' means any booking given to the Society in writing, on our website, or by phone. 'Member' means any member of the ACT Law Society, including associate members and honorary members. 'Young Lawyer' means any member who has held a practising certificate for five years or less. 'CLC' means any member working for a recognised community legal centre, or holding a volunteer practising certificate. 'Student' means a full time student studying law at a recognised Australian tertiary institution.



Single ticket $455.00 (GST incl.) Register



7.30-7.45am           Registration + tea and coffee

Business planning & procedures



0.5 units -Core area 2

Course introduction - business planning

Planning for success! Welcome to “Best practices to set up a law firm”.


When you are starting out and everything is moving forward quickly it’s easy to deviate from where you intended to be.


If you don’t have a business plan to keep you focused on the goals that are crucial for your firm you might compromise growth or opportunities.


Rob Reis, Professional Standards Manager, ACT Law Society  



0.5 units -Core area 2

Policies and Procedures

An essential part of successfully running a law firm is building your law firm’s policies and procedures manual.


This will ease the training of new staff members, reduce the amount of variance between staff and allow your firm to be compliant within ACT and federal agencies that require written procedures.


Developing content to cover rules and regulations such as employment, behaviour, administrative functions, file management, conflicts of interest checking, managing trust accounts, calendaring and routine daily activities such as mail and phone policies might not be the most enjoyable of tasks however will be imperative to the success and functionality of your firm.


Maurice Falcetta, Commercial Litigation Partner, Trinity Law



1 unit -Core area 2

Adjusting your business strategy in times of change  

Your firm need to be proactive in adapting their strategies and business models to ensure it continues to be profitable and client needs are met.


Now, more than ever, businesses are evaluating how to adapt their businesses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there may be other reasons that arise such as changes in legislation or governance that require your business to take a new direction. It is imperative to consider all risks associated with your current (or forming) business plan and to know when to an assessment is needed to be readjusted.  


Hear from local firm on how they managed to adjust their business structure in 2020 when new changes to CTP came into effect.

Presenter TBC

9.45-10.10am       Morning Tea

The business of accounts 



1 unit -Core area 2

Tax and Compliance

One size does not fit all when it comes to setting up your firm. There are different business structures to consider depending on how your business will be run.


Hear from local advisors who understand the obstacles faced by businesses everyday and provide advice on how to overcome them by setting up your business correctly including BAS, PAYG and legislative tax requirements.


Presenter TBC



0.5 units -Core area 2

Business planning & risk management

Establishing a risk management plan and budget for your firm will not only ensure that you are financially viable, avoiding liquidation, you will also be prepared if something does go wrong.


What kind of firm are you looking at? What will be your strategy and action plan for your business? Can you identify potential complications and risks for your business and what the solutions to these will be?

Tony Lane, Director – Insolvency & Reconstruction, Vincents



1 unit -Core area 2

Business budgeting

The financial implications of your business goals and strategies should be reflected in the financial forecasts of your business plan.


Know the importance of strategic business budget planning for staffing, billable hours, overheads and most importantly to making sure your firm is profitable.


Hear about Kevin’s strategies including how their firm budgeted on the basis of not having any clients for the first 12 months.


Kevin Robinson, Founder & Principal, Robinson & McGuiness Family Law

12.40-1:10pm             Lunch

Staff and employment



0.5 unit - Core area 1


0.5 unit - Core area 2


Supervision and appropriate training and mentoring of staff 

According to the ACT Law Society’s Professional Standards team, inadequate supervision of junior staf is unfortunately becoming a common complaint.  Vivien sits on the Professional Standards Committee and Tony was a member of that Committee for several years.  Both presenters have researched the experience of new lawyers and the factors that facilitate or impede their professional development.

This session will look at examples of disciplinary issues arising from poor staff management.  The presenters will then broaden the focus to discuss what sort of culture helps junior lawyers both act ethically and thrive at work, and how such a culture can be built.


Professor Tony Foley and Associate Professor Vivien Holmes, the Australian National University.

Vivien Holmes, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Australian National University



1 unit -Core area 2

Employment contracts

Employment contracts are an essential document for both staff and employees.

A good employment document should include;

  • A position description which clearly outlines position and duties
  • Employment details including contract length, termination and company policies that will result in dismissal
  • Remuneration
  • Protocols & leave entitlements
  • Confidentiality clauses

Ensure your position descriptions attract the appropriate staff for your firm, know what awards are suitable for your staff and contracts appropriate for your business structure.


Gabrielle Sullivan, Director (Employment Law and Investigations), Bradley Allen Love Lawyers

3.10-3.30pm       Afternoon Tea


Set up of panel table



1 unit -Core area 2

Marketing your firm

There have been more changes in the media and marketing over the last five years than the previous 50. Power has shifted from the ‘seller’ to the ‘buyer’ and a fragmented media landscape together with the domination of the tech giants has transformed professional services marketing.


This session will provide a foundation for better understanding key marketing tactics in the context of private practice and will draw upon the latest trends and case studies.


Coordinate will also provide a broad overview of the changes in the marketing landscape along with a glimpse into a future powered by technology exploring three key themes:

  • The power of a brand and how strong brands create differentiation and underpin success.
  • The benefits of personal branding in professional services.
  • Leveraging the connected world to drive new leads.


Warren Apps, Director/Partner, Coordinate



1 unit -Core area 2


0.5 units -Core area 3

Panel Session– Successful business planning and partnerships

Find out tips and tricks from successful firms in Canberra who work in criminal, family and commercial law.


Our interactive panel will allow attendees to ask questions and discuss topics such as;

  • the ingredients of a successful business partnership
  • strategies for running a successful firm
  • successful business planning


Panel presenters;

Anna Neilan & Lucy Stramandinoli – Partners, Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law

Tom Taylor, Partner, McKenna Taylor Criminal Defence Lawyers

Emma Bragg Partner, Tetlow Legal




Rob Reis, Professional Standards Manager, ACT Law Society


Tony Lane, Director – Insolvency & Reconstruction, Vincents

Tony leads our insolvency and reconstruction practice in our Canberra office, focussing on value preservation and protection strategies, asset management and realisation as well as stakeholder management in a range of complex bankruptcies, voluntary administrations, liquidations and receiverships, including major trading engagements across a range of industries.

Tony has significant experience in applying his analytical skills to the identification of the warning signs of business failure, the analysis of alternative strategies available to struggling enterprises and the development of strategies to minimise value loss and protect asset integrity.

Maurice Falcetta, Commercial Litigation Partner, Trinity Law

Maurice is the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Partner at Trinity Law. Litigation is neither for the faint hearted, nor for the foolhardy. He combines an outstanding reputation as one of Canberra’s best and technical commercial litigators, with the wisdom and pragmatism that comes from many years of practical experience in dispute resolution.

Maurice’s clients range in size from local Canberra based businesses, through large privately held companies, right up to large listed entities and national superannuation funds. He heads up Trinity Law’s litigation team, with a large insolvency, and construction law practice. Maurice also brings an extremely valuable skill set to his practice – before his legal career, he was a commercial construction professional, and is a qualified quantity surveyor ( and Former President of the AIQS ( Canberra)) – a skill set that assists our many construction and property development clients.

Maurice has an eclectic taste in music, and enjoys fine food. He also has an interest in all things historical and the human condition in all its manifestations.

Kevin Robinson, Founder & Principal, Robinson & McGuiness Family Law

Kevin Robinson has a reputation for helping clients navigate their way through the family law process with a focus on preserving people’s dignity and their children’s welfare. Kevin has been recognised as a Leading Family & Divorce Lawyer, and Leading Parenting, Custody & Children’s Matters Lawyer in the Australian Capital Territory for 2019 in the prestigious Doyles Guide. Prior to founding Robinson + McGuinness, Kevin practised in all areas of family law in Canberra as well as in Guardianship and Care and Protection matters.

Kevin acquired extensive skills in mediation and substitute decision making over a 15 year period with the NSW Protective Commissioner prior to practising exclusively in family law. As Acting Deputy Protection Commissioner, Kevin was responsible for managing the financial and legal affairs of approximately 8,500 people with decision making disabilities.

Kevin has a keen interest in facilitating positive outcomes for children and to assist clients in achieving early resolution of their matters wherever possible. He combines empathy with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. Kevin is on the panel maintained by Legal Aid ACT to provide representation to children in proceedings in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court when such a request is made by the Presiding Judicial Officer.

Kevin is a member of the ACT Law Society Family Law Committee; a member of the Canberra Region Family Law Professionals Association; a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia; a member of the Independent Children’s Lawyer Panel – ACT Legal Aid; an Accredited Collaborative Law Practitioner; and an Accredited Family Law Arbitrator.

Vivien Holmes, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Australian National University

Vivien sits on the ACT Law Society’s Professional Standards Committee and teaches and researches in the fields of legal ethics, legal education and the legal profession. She is currently Associate Dean, Education at the ANU College of Law.

Prior to joining ANU, Vivien worked as a litigation solicitor in private and government practice, a government legal policy officer, the Registrar of the NT Supreme Court, the NT Registrar of Probates, the NT Deputy Coroner and a Judicial Registrar of the NT Magistrates' Court. She has been a member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and is a member of the ACT Law Society’s Complaint Committee.

Professor Tony Foley, ANU, College of Law

Professor Tony Foley has served as Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor (University Experience) at ANU since July 2019.

Tony has been a solicitor for more than 30 years practising in criminal law and researching in restorative justice. He conducts empirical research on the legal profession and lawyer wellbeing as leader of the Transition to Practice Research Group with Vivien Holmes and Stephen Tang. He has published widely in those fields and regularly presents his research at national and international conferences.

Gabrielle Sullivan, Director (Employment Law and Investigations), Bradley Allen Love Lawyers

Gabrielle has been practising civil law for over 20 years, primarily in Employment and Industrial law.  She has worked for trade unions and public sector employers in addition to private law firms, and so has an understanding of both employer and employee perspectives of the workplace relations divide. She has extensive exposure to public sector employment law, gained from working for and against Commonwealth, Territory and NSW Local Governments.

Gabrielle has comprehensive experience as a workplace misconduct investigator, and is on the Code of Conduct Review Panel for many Local Government Councils across NSW. Gabrielle also chairs appeal panels for ACT public servant grievances on behalf of the ACT government. Gabrielle is a competent advisor, drafter and litigator in employment and industrial law and discrimination.  She conducts workplace training to government and the private sector on workplace issues such as performance management, bullying, sexual harassment, public interest disclosures, and work health and safety obligations. She also has considerable expertise in the complex world of labour hire and recruitment.

Gabrielle was admitted to legal practice in NSW in 1997. After working in Sydney for Clayton Utz, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Maurice Blackburn Cashman, Gabrielle joined Williams Love & Nicol in Canberra in 2007, working for five years in her specialist field before becoming Principal Solicitor in the Employment Group at the ACT Government Solicitor Office. Gabrielle joined Bradley Allen Love in April 2013, becoming a Director in 2016. She gained her Employment and Industrial Law Specialist Accreditation from the NSW Law Society in November 2016. She was appointed as a member of the ACT Law Society’s Industrial Relations Committee in 2018.

Warren Apps, Partner/Director, Coordinate

Warren is a Director of Coordinate Group, Canberra’s largest communication, marketing and advertising consultancy. He has 20 years experience working in multinational advertising agencies and was twice named one of the top five advertising professionals under 30 in Australia by B&T in 2007 and 2008.

Anna Neilan, Partner, Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law

Anna has been working in family law since 2000 and an accredited specialist in family law since 2011.  Anna is passionate about parenting matters involving young children or high conflict and risk issues such as mental health and addiction problems.

Anna also has a Commerce degree and has a particular interest in complex property matters where there is a need to investigate complicated business interests or commercial structures.

She also helps clients with a small asset pool to work out ways to divide their property using the law and being as cost effective as possible.​

Anna fiercely but also pragmatically represents her clients through each an every stage of their matter, whether it be through preparing documents to formalise an agreement reached between parties or assisting client’s through dispute resolution processes such as mediation, negotiation and collaboration.  As a last resort, Anna is very comfortable litigating complex family law matters and has spent many years successfully advocating for her clients in Court.

Anna volunteers for a number of organisations and has held board positions in the community and is part of the Australian Polish community. When she is not in court or the community, you will find her running after her two young sons.


Lucy Stramandinoli, Partner, Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law

Lucy prides herself in her excellence around managing complex matters between parties, high conflict and highly challenging parenting matters.

Lucy’s passion for family law started working at the ACT Legal Aid Office at the young age of 17. She spent 5 years there working with brilliant lawyers who moved on to become Judges and Magistrates, some of which currently work in the ACT Courts.

After taking a short break to raise her two children, she worked for a former ACT Chief Minister for 2 years but the road still led her back to family law.

While working at a larger Canberra family law firm for the last 16 years, Lucy acquired quite the taste for litigation. With her Italian background, she shows no fear and exudes confidence when fighting for her clients. Lucy also never stops thinking about strategies to deal with her client’s needs.

Along with her fearless nature, Lucy is also known for her ability to connect with her clients as people, to empower them to understand the process and to help resolve their issues by providing options and letting her clients own the process.

Lucy believes that Court should be your last resort to resolve your family law matter. There are so many other options for parties such as mediation or collaborative law. Whichever process you choose, Lucy can guide you through that space.

Tom Taylor, Partner, McKenna Taylor Criminal Defence Lawyers

Tom has earnt the respect of his clients, lawyers and judges through years of dedicated practice in criminal law. With experience as a lawyer in country NSW, in the Australian Army and in one of Sydney’s largest criminal law firms, he knows the right time to bring an aggressive approach. Tom has a unique talent in making real connections with his clients and earning their trust. Before joining the legal profession he worked in sports management and as a professional lifeguard in Australia and Japan.

Emma Bragg, Principal/Partner, Tetlow Legal

Emma is a current member of the ACT Law Society's Elder Law and Succession Law Committee. She is an active and vocal member of the Committee which is committed to raising awareness in the community about elder law and succession law issues.

Rob Reis, Professional Standards Manager, ACT Law Society

Rob Reis is the Professional Standards Manager of the ACT Law Society, with responsibility for Chapter 4 investigations into allegations of misconduct by practitioners including conflicts of interest, breach of confidentiality, and trust account misappropriation and defalcation. Rob has been in this role since the commencement of the Legal Profession Act in 2006, and prior to that was in private practice from 1985. In addition to his statutory role Rob also presents risk management and trust account seminars for newly admitted practitioners, paralegals and other administrative and support staff. He also runs bi-annual mandatory Practice Management Courses for senior and experienced practitioners and is a sessional lecturer at the University of Canberra and a tutor in Ethics at the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Australian National University.


Sponsors & Supporters

The Law Society is proud to recognise legalsuper as the sponsor of the Law Society CPD Program.

legalsuper is the industry super fund for Australia’s legal community. With personal service for every member, we can help you to maximise your super, consolidate accounts, adjust insurance or investments, plan for retirement and more. Contact Client Service Manager Ragnhild Sky on 0455 455 010 or email to book your complimentary appointment today.