David Mason is one of our senior lawyers at Aptum Legal. Before joining Aptum, David was an associate to Justice Besanko in the Federal Court of Australia and practised as an associate in commercial dispute resolution for a major national firm. Aptum’s exceptional advice and unique offering is built on attracting talented, accomplished lawyers like David. I asked David to share his thoughts on why he joined Aptum.
On finding better ways of practicing law:
Initially I was motivated to join Aptum by the opportunity to make changes in how we conduct litigation. I actually like the idea of reinventing the wheel in the right circumstances if it means you can find a better way of doing something. I think lawyers can sometimes be prone to doing things the same way, taking the path of least resistance, and in doing so can miss the opportunity to apply fresh thinking and adopt new approaches. I have always enjoyed the challenge of doing something different and finding a better way, but you don't always get that opportunity in a traditional law firm.
Wherever possible, I also prefer to dive into an issue up front, making sure that I have a good handle on all of the important issues and the commercial motives of a client before jumping one way or another – I find that it means I can provide the client with better information from the outset, including preliminary advice and likely outcomes. This pre-work is also really important in mapping out a proper process that is transparent to the client and provides a more accurate cost to help the client resolve the dispute. By mapping out everything that needs to happen in advance you can often find more efficient ways of running the case and figure out if this is one of those matters where we might be better off rethinking the design of that wheel.
On engaging clients in the legal process:
Traditionally, there has been somewhat of an ‘us and them’ attitude when it comes to lawyers and their clients, but the trend is towards fostering a more trusting relationship. Most clients involved in insolvency litigation are quite sophisticated and want more input into the process rather than it being all one way. Clients also want greater insight into how their matter is progressing and law firms need to find ways of being more transparent. I don’t know of anyone that likes surprises in litigation, be it cost-over runs or unexpected outcomes. Being more open and collaborative helps to avoids this. By providing more transparency and greater engagement in the legal process, establishing likely outcomes for clients and providing more certainty on fees, we are not doing a community service, we are doing our job properly. It is what clients should expect.
On the importance of the workplace:
The work environment is a big factor for me and I like that I can play a role in building the culture at Aptum. I strongly believe that a collaborative culture, both within the firm and with the client, gets better outcomes for both lawyers and clients. Flexibility is also important to balance work and your personal life.
Also, I love the paperless work environment. Now that I’ve gotten to experience a truly paperless environment, I never want to go back! Not only do I find it more efficient (once you get your head around it), but I’ll always enjoy the schadenfreude you feel when standing in line at court with an iPad and a laptop next to someone with a trolley full of folders…