Getting The Best Value From Your Dispute Resolution Lawyer

31 October, 2019 | Nathan Tetzlaff

As a dispute resolution and litigation lawyer, I interact with a wide range of clients in lots of different highly stressful and difficult circumstances.

Even in very similar cases, clients can have very different experiences with their lawyers.   Why is this, and how can your experiences with a dispute resolution lawyer be as positive as possible for you in the circumstances?

This article is a list of simple strategies and things for you to understand which should help you minimise your stress, increase the value you get from your lawyer, and maximize your chances of coming out of a legal proceeding with a good result.


Law can be technical and doesn’t necessarily make immediate sense to non-lawyers.  There will usually be a pretty good reason why the law says what it says, and avoiding future problems may depend on understanding what you should or should not do and why.

If you don’t understand why your lawyer is advising you in a certain way, it’s best to say so, and ask questions until you do.


Let’s be real; lawyers aren’t free.  In many cases you’ll get much more in value from your lawyer than you pay, but there is an up-front cost for fees.  Make sure this money is not wasted – listen to your lawyer’s advice even if you decide not to follow it.

I have attended more than one meeting with clients where I don’t think I completed an entire sentence without being interrupted.  Those clients were more interested in arguing about what they thought the situation should be, then listening to my advice about how to deal with the actual situation.

We make sure that you get enough time to explain the situation and your views, but make sure that you give us enough time to explain your legal position and best course of action.

Accept legal realities

Everyone knows that life isn’t fair.  It’s less well known that law isn’t always fair either. Laws are drafted by the government to try to achieve a particular outcome.  They are generally well-intentioned but may apply to your particular situation in a way that wasn’t anticipated or isn’t quite fair.

Alternatively, the intended outcome of a law might be something that you don’t agree with. Employment law is a great example of this as employers often complain about the extent of government regulation and consider this an overreach into their businesses.

When you have a legal dispute, you may have to overcome the mental hurdle of accepting that the law doesn’t work the way that you think it should.  Once you grasp the reality of the legal situation and accept that the law may not result in an outcome you think is just or appropriate, you’ll find it much easier to receive good practical advice.

We’re on your side

The popular view of lawyers thanks to TV shows, is of a hard-nosed battler who doesn’t give an inch, fights everything, and ultimately wins (because truth and justice must win by the end of the episode).

The reality of disputes is that things are seldom black and white.  A dispute might easily arise from the interpretation of a clause in a contract.  In that case both parties might genuinely believe that they are in the right, no one is behaving “badly”, and the question of who will win if the matter goes to court is a coin toss about what the judge thinks on the day.

Settlement between the parties to avoid the cost and uncertainty of going to court is often a legitimate and reasonable thing to consider and may be the best available option.  However, discussing this can seem like negativity to some people and they refuse to consider anything less than complete victory.

To those people, hearing a lawyer explain that they could lose and there are significant risks and costs involved, isn’t very welcome and seems like “loser talk”.  It’s very easy for the lawyer-client relationship to take a turn for the worse.  Please understand that even if we aren’t telling you things you want to hear, and even if we are suggesting reaching a compromise, we are still on your side and trying to achieve the best possible outcome for you based on your risk profile.

If you want us to fight, we’ll fight.  But behind the scenes, we want you to be aware of your risks so you can make informed decisions.  Remember we see a lot of cases where a gung-ho approach can backfire.  We’re on your side.

We got this!

Trust us, we have a vast amount of experience dealing with disputes.  We’ll make sure that the case is managed, and we have everything that we need from you.  Court cases move slowly so don’t worry if it seems like nothing much is happening.  We push for the quickest resolution of your disputes possible.

Legal disputes are always stressful, and this can get in the way off getting the most from your lawyer.  At Smith and Partners we do our best to understand your particular approach to a dispute, and communicate with you in a way that is effective and easily understood.

Do you need assistance with a dispute? Contact our dispute resolution team on 09 837 6890 to set up an appointment today.

Do you need assistance with a dispute?
Set up an appointment with one of our dispute resolution experts for further advice today.

email Nathan
+64 9 8376844

About the author

Nathan is a senior dispute resolution lawyer, with specialist experience in civil disputes, including commercial litigation and employment law. He assists clients with trust disputes, residential and commercial property disputes, construction disputes, business disputes including shareholder and franchise disputes, and
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