Each quarter we interview one of our clients to get an insight into their business. This issue we spoke to Kara Best of Best Wilson Buckley Family Law.
When did your business commence?
Best Wilson Family Law opened doors on 1 November 2009. Reagan Wilson and I were joined in partnership by Dan Buckley in December 2013, and Best Wilson Buckley Family Law was born. Dan heads our Brisbane Office whilst Reagan and I are based in Toowoomba. We now have twelve family law solicitors, having opened doors in 2009 with only four admitted staff.
What does your business do?
We are a boutique Family Law practice. We provide advice and representation in relation to family law matters, covering the spectrum of divorce, property settlement, parenting post-separation (often called custody), child support, child abduction, surrogacy, adoption, and financial structuring.
What makes your business successful?
I think there are a number of external and internal factors. Our staff is a big factor. We are surrounded by talented, driven and compassionate lawyers, and we’ve had, and continue to enjoy, phenomenal administrative support. I count my blessings every day for the quality of paralegal, transcription, reception and booking support we have.
Increasingly there appears to be greater opportunity in specialising in one area of law. We don’t compete with other lawyers in relation to their areas of specialisation and accordingly we’re fortunate to have a solid referral base in other professionals.
Family Law is increasingly complex, so it is difficult, if not sometimes irresponsible for a practitioner to dabble in the area. Our clients are looking for expertise, and understandably so when many are at their most vulnerable. A specialist practice can offer that.
Because we are focused, every aspect of our service is directed to making what we do more efficient, more supportive and more effective for a client.
At our core, I think our success is due to our genuine commitment to client service. From the beginning, Reagan and I have shared a belief that it’s imperative that every client feel prioritised and understood, that every client be provided with valuable legal assistance that effects the most optimal outcome, and that every client pay only a reasonable fee for that assistance. We are direct communicators and encourage our staff to be direct with our clients about the reality of their situation and what can reasonably be done in a flawed legal system to make it easier for them. Whilst I shouldn’t say this, we offer more than legal assistance, we give an abundance of practical advice and inevitably provide emotional support in addition to being lawyers.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Our recognition in the Doyle’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 Guide to the Australian Legal Profession is huge for us. We were originally the only Toowoomba family law practice recognised, and most recently Reagan and I have been the only lawyers recognised as pre-eminent family law practitioners in the region. More recently Dan Buckley in Brisbane has also been recognised. This is voted by colleagues, which means a lot. The recognition of the firm (beyond any individual) in all three years has also been satisfying and a testament to every member of the office.
We have retained many staff for long periods of time, and despite our size there is still a sense of family about how we interact with each other. I would like to think that we’ve achieved really important outcomes for a large number of clients around issues that really matter, like their kids and the time they spend with them following separation.
We’ve tried to foster and encourage good relationships with our colleagues, and I’m proud of that – it only helps get the job done on good terms for our clients when lawyers aren’t butting heads. The other big achievement from our perspective is the decision by Shine Corporate to invest in our vision for the expansion of our practice beyond its current offices. We’ve watched Shine build a well-regarded brand and a solid business themselves, and believe that there will be significant benefit in having their support to grow the practice in a way that we have only dreamt about to date.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting up a business?
Three things. We’ve had the assistance of two incredible practice managers. The first was focused more on financial control and helped build some value in the business by controlling expenditure and ensuring that our systems were reliable. He allowed us to expand on a safe foundation. Our second practice manager has really taken the business to an entirely new level. Her foresight, judgment and insight into every aspect of the business has been phenomenal and I think without that level of support, it is very difficult for a professional services firm to flourish.
Culture is key, and any periods of struggle for the business have been during periods when we were allowing staff and clients to act contrary to what we value.
And finally, know your business. Know every aspect of your profit & loss statement, know your EBIT, know what risks your business faces and how best to minimise them.
How do you relax from the pressures of being in business?
Family. My husband is enormously supportive and whilst he may no longer be the BWBFL practice manager, he remains a great sounding board and support. I also have two little girls who I delight in being with.