15th June

How to guide: The different types of law firms and how to choose one

At the time of writing this article there are over 15,000 lawyers in New Zealand and almost 7,000 are registered with the Auckland Law Society branch alone. So, how can you choose a law firm in Auckland with this much choice?

Well, luckily, it’s a lot easier than it may first appear.

Firstly, what is ASCO Legal? What do we do?

Were an Auckland law firm consisting of five solicitors, two legal executives and three supporting staff (at the date of writing this). We are a full-service firm with specialisations in commercial law and property, and franchising. A ‘full-service firm’ means that we have many practice areas, including business and commercial law, family trusts and estates, Wills, commercial leasing, conveyancing, and other areas too! Unlike many Auckland law firms we are part of a small number of firms that also have a special interest and skills in franchising.

In our practice we have adopted the mantra of approaching the law and the practice of law with a “fresh perspective” in comparison to many other New Zealand law firms. What this means is that we believe that law and lawyers should be accessible to our clients. We do not need to have briefcases and wigs anymore; and we hope those days are gone. We believe in your comfort and wellbeing and hope that you want to drop in to see us when you’re in the area. We love having a chat and a coffee and we keep up with law and make it easy, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Read more about how to choose a law firm below...When you're considering choosing a lawyer or law firm, what do you need to know?

  • ​​What do people say about the law firm?

These days it is easy to find reviews on almost everything – no different when it comes to law firms. Don’t be afraid to read the Google Reviews for law firms you’re thinking of engaging. ASCO Legal is upfront with Google Reviews and we encourage clients new and old to give reviews and read reviews from others. ASCO Legal’s Google review link is here.

Testimonials on a law firms’ website are also useful – not only are they also reviews but they tell you something about the types of businesses and clients that have engaged that law firm and what those businesses and clients think of them. The link to ASCO Legal’s testimonials is here. You should keep in mind, however, that the law firms are selecting the Testimonials to publish themselves, so unlike the Google reviews the Testimonials could be outdated.

Ask your friends and family (or even a Facebook group!) what law firm they have used, when they used them, what for, and what they thought of them. Word of mouth is great, and you may find that a lawyer who was a great fit for your friend or family member, may be a great fit for you too! We would suggest, however, that you clarify particularly how long ago the firm did the work, and what kind of work they did! You may find that if the recommended Auckland law firm did some work 20 years ago on a patent matter but you’re looking for a new lawyer now to do work for you on a property matter that the recommendation may be interesting but not very useful.

  • What does the law firm say about themselves?

If they have a website, take a look through it. If the website is updated, the links work, and the website has a lot of information about the staff and the practice areas then that is a great starting point. If they write regular articles and have a Facebook and community presence, then those may also be things you could consider.

Email the law firm you’re considering, call them, or even just drop in!

Do they seem welcoming? Are they happy to meet you? What kind of environment does the firm have?

Some firms pride themselves on being the biggest firm, having the most wonderful views from their office (that their clients often end up paying for), an intimidating presence and red tape, or the most luxurious of furnishings, whereas others pride themselves on being the most cut price and some even work out of their cars or homes. Maybe you’re looking for something in the middle with people that know what they’re doing but welcome you in, like ASCO Legal. Ask yourself - what is important to you?

If the firm makes you feel at ease, welcome and peaceful that’s great! On the other hand, if you feel apologetic, out of place, or uncomfortable then they may not be the right fit for you.

  • and finally - What is the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

In New Zealand there are lawyers who practice as solicitors, and lawyers who practice as barristers. (Granted, there are some that do both but that’s story for another day).

The rule of thumb to be able to tell the difference is Does this lawyer go to Court? If no, then they’re likely a solicitor. If yes, then they’re likely a barrister.

If you need to appear in Court for something the Police have charged you with, for example, drink driving or assault, or you have received a summons to appear before a Judge on a certain day, then you will likely want a barrister to accompany you. Barristers don’t usually operate as a law “firm” as such, they operate as sole practitioners or in very small teams out of what is usually called “chambers” (basically, their offices). Note, however, that barristers usually also need a solicitor to “instruct them” on your behalf so you actually usually still end up needing solicitors’ involvement – this is because barristers aren’t usually legally able to take instructions from you themselves without what is called an “instructing solicitor” as an intermediary.

For every other legal matter that you won’t be (or won’t yet be) looking at going to court for, you need a solicitor. A solicitor can assist you with all your legal needs, depending on what areas they practice. As mentioned earlier, some law firms specialize in certain areas at the exclusion of everything else such as certain elements of intellectual property (like patents), employment law, and adoption, but many others operate as generalist lawyers like the lawyers at ASCO Legal. ASCO Legal is a full-service practice meaning that we have many practice areas, including business and commercial law, family trusts and estates, Wills, commercial leasing, and conveyancing – to coin the overused phrase “a one-stop shop”. Unlike many Auckland law firms, however, we also have a special interest and skills in franchising.

The advantage of working with a full-service firm like ASCO Legal is that full-service firms can streamline your business and personal legal needs to increase efficiency, reduce complexity, and tailor advice and your legal work to fit your life with all its facets. We then can get to know you, your family and your life on both a commercial and personal level so all your legal needs are handled together with us, and we can consider and fit with you and your unique circumstances, at whatever stage you’re at, with whatever you’re working towards.

TLDR; If the law firm knows the area you need help with, people say good things about them, and you feel that they are your kind of people working with you and for you - then they’re likely the right law firm for you.

Shortcut alert! A great Auckland law firm is right here!

We look forward to talking with you soon.