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 19 August 2021
  • Where: East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston 
  • Meals and refreshments will be provided throughout the day
  • The free consultant meeting is up to a maximum of 3 hours and must be used in the same financial year that the course is run
  • 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 12 August 2021

Registration details

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 held at an venue other than the Law Society, no refund can be made after the RSVP date of the event. In the case of CPD events held at the Law Society, 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.

The Law Society is enforcing covid-safe measures as set out by ACT Health at all our face-to-face events. 

If you are sick, have recently visited a COVID hot-spot, or are in close contact with someone in either situation, please stay at home.

For the comfort and safety of our members, many of our CPD sessions continue to be available either online or in-person. If you choose the live-stream option you can still interact, ask questions, and be a meaningful participant at the seminar.

For more information about online CPD, please contact Carissa on




Member rate $350.00(GST incl.) Register
Non-member rate $455.00(GST incl.) Register
Student/CLC rate $90.00(GST incl.) Register



Registration + tea and coffee


Part 1: Business planning and procedures


Course introduction: 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.

Presenter: Rob Reis, Professional Standards Manager, ACT Law Society  


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.

Presenter: Maurice Falcetta, Commercial Litigation Partner, Trinity Law


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 times of change.

Presenter: Mark Love, Legal Director, Business & Corporate, Bradley Allen Love


Morning Tea


Part 2: The business of accounts 


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 every day and provide advice on how to overcome them by setting up your business correctly including BAS, PAYG and legislative tax requirements.

Presenter: Michael Papandrea FCPA, Principal & Founding Partner, Papandrea Partners


Business planning and 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?

Presenter: Tony Lane, Director – Insolvency & Reconstruction, Vincents


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.

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




Part 3: Staff and employment


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. 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. 

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


Employment contracts

Having enforceable contracts regulating your working arrangements is a great start. This session will assist you to understand the contracts appropriate for your business structure and type of worker (independent contractor, permanent v casual employees, juniors, etc), know what Awards and minimum standards underly all employment contracts in ACT legal services sector, and learn what to include in written contracts of employment (including remuneration and working time arrangements, termination clauses, restraint clauses, confidentiality clauses), and what to leave out.

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


Afternoon Tea


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.

Presenter: Warren Apps, Director/Partner, Coordinate


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, and successful business planning.

Panel presenters: Anna Neilan & Lucy Stramandinoli – Partners, Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law; Tom Taylor, Partner, McKenna Taylor Criminal Defence Lawyers; and 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)).

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 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, Australian National University 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 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. 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.

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 Bragg is a partner at Tetlow Legal, a boutique law firm specialising in commercial law, property law and estate planning. In 2018, Emma was the Acting Chair of the ACT Law Society’s Elder Law and Succession Law Committee where she remains a current member. 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. In 2019, Emma was appointed as a member of the Law Council of Australia’s National Elder Law and Succession Law Committee. Emma regularly gives talks and presentations to community and professional groups on Estate Planning, Aged Care, and Retirement Village living. In her spare time, Emma recently helped collaborate and pen the chapter on Wills and Estates in Austlii’s ACT Law Handbook launched in October 2018. Emma is regularly recognised for her work in the areas of Wills, Estates and Succession Planning and was named as a leading lawyer in the ACT in this field in the Doyle’s Guide 2019. Tetlow Legal was also recognised as a First Tier law firm in the area of Wills, Estates and Succession Planning within the ACT in the Doyle’s Guide 2019.

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.

Mark Love, Legal Director, Business & Corporate, Bradley Allen Love

Mark practices in the area of Business/Corporate Law and is a New South Wales Law Society Accredited Specialist in Business Law. Mark is an experienced commercial lawyer and negotiator. His practice concentrates on the areas of contract and commercial law, contract negotiation and drafting, as well as enforcement and compliance strategies. His practice has involved all manner of business related matters, ranging from advising on the placement of high end Cray computers in defense sensitive environments to drafting standard terms of sale for goods and services, leasing and hire/acquisition arrangements. Mark works extensively in the field of corporate duties, including enforcement of duties in the course of insolvency and was for more than 20 years a course developer and facilitator of the AICD “Director Duties and Responsibilities” module. He was a long term director and Deputy Chairman of “Exhibition Park in Canberra”, an ACT Government Corporation. He is presently the Chair of the ACT Law Society Legal Practice and Ethics Committee. He has particular experience in corporate governance law, insolvency and restructuring and intellectual property. Mark’s clients include private industry, government agencies, peak industry representative bodies, Chartered and CPA accountants, insolvency practitioners, corporate retailers and many others.

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 Long Nguyen on 0477 401 151 or to book your free appointment today — meetings can be conducted by phone or on Zoom.