Q&A with Brown Lawyers

Death, taxes and hating lawyers; the certainties of life. If hating lawyers was a religion, wars would end and the hungry would be fed. Andrew Brown and the Brown Lawyers team want to change the perception that all lawyers are out for themselves with a new vision of the law. It’s a legal landscape where the client’s need for resolution takes precedence over the lawyer’s hunger for revenue. They want to help members of the community take control of their lives and enjoy it with certainty and peace of mind. “The law is your friend, and so are we.”

You advertise yourself as “doing law differently.” Explain what that means and how that benefits your clients?
We “do law differently” by taking a holistic and proactive approach to legal services. We take the time to get to know our clients and their unique requirements, and tailor our advice and services to fit their exact needs. We want to know their plans and dreams, so that we can help them prepare for what happens when those dreams come true. Our clients benefit by having better plans in place for their families and businesses, and by having the certainty that they are ready for any challenges ahead. They also pay far fewer legal fees in their lifetimes on average because they are so well-prepared.

It’s no secret that Lawyers have developed a poor reputation, some earned, some not. What about the legal industry is Brown Lawyers aspiring to change?
Lawyers suffer from a poor reputation mainly because, by the old model, they profit from other peoples’ failures and pain. The more pain there is, the more money lawyers make. They thrive when people are in conflict. It’s hard to like someone like that. That is why people tend to contact lawyers only when they absolutely must. We believe that is the worst time to call a lawyer, because then the damage is already done and fixing it is costly.

We aspire to flip that model on its head; we think lawyers best succeed by setting their clients up for success. There is a lot we can do to help people before problems arise, so that they can avoid or manage conflict for the best outcome. We want people to think of their legal health much the same way they think of their physical health and have regular “checkups” with their lawyers to maintain their wellbeing. By doing so, they catch legal issues before they turn into legal problems and can save themselves the financial and emotional strain of drawn-out legal battles.

What are the benefits to being a law office that provides a wide variety of legal services?
Though we do offer a lot of services (estate planning and administration, family law, corporate and small business, collaboration and mediation), there is a common thread running through all of them – harmony. Every service we offer is designed to maximize harmony in our clients’ lives, our own lives, and ultimately in our community. By offering a variety of services, we are able to take that holistic approach to our clients’ legal well-being; we know that what is going on in one aspect of their life (say, their business) will impact the other areas of their lives as well (such as their family and estate). By having an overview of all those aspects, we can assist our clients in keeping them in balance, and make sure that their plans work together seamlessly in all areas of their lives.

You mention Collaborative Family Law & Mediation. Tell us a bit more about this?
Collaborative Family Law is a respectful approach where both individuals and their respective lawyers work together using a problem solving, team-focused approach to resolve their issues instead of going through the courts. This way, the control remains with the couple instead of with lawyers and judges, and they get to determine the outcome they want.

In the Mediation process, a couple or family works with a single lawyer or mediator as a neutral third party to find resolutions that suit all members. Mediation can be used to resolve any type of dispute, but we focus on guiding spouses through a separation process and the development of a Separation Agreement, assisting families with a caregiver plan or other decisions relating to a senior family member, and facilitating family conferences relating to an estate plan, building a Family Charter, or helping with a family business transition.

We believe that the Collaborative Family Law process and mediation truly achieve the best outcome for families. Not only are they efficient and practical, usually resulting in an agreement, but they also acknowledge the difficult emotional issues often associated with complex family situations. The advantages of the process include resolution within a shorter time frame and at a lower cost compared with a court process.

Throughout the years, Brown Lawyers has helped so many people. Can you share some of your most memorable experiences?
While we can’t divulge too much about our interactions with our clients, it has been an honour to be able to support our community through various local events. A few years ago, we held a “Dress for Success” style event at the Grace Anglican church, and we were profoundly touched by the overwhelming amount of donations from the community, as well as how much it meant to the participants. There were a lot of hugs and tears going around that day. We also enjoy taking part in some of the annual local festivals such as the rotary Oh! Canada Ribfest and the Flamborough Women’s Resource Centre’s Chilifest as sponsors and attendees. It’s great to see so many community members coming together to support these causes and have a good time too!

What are the keys to being a successful law firm?
Other than making sure clients are successful, a big key to law firm success is adaptability. With the rapid advancements in technology and growing social change movements, laws are evolving, and so is the way people consume legal services. Unfortunately, the legal industry is rarely that quick to adapt because many law firms are entrenched in tradition. We make a point of examining the way we do things to make sure it is best practice and not just because it is the way things have always been done. While that does not mean throwing away all traditions, it does mean being open to new and better ways of doing things and investing in continuous learning and growth.

What is most important for someone looking to hire a lawyer?
The most important thing to look for in a lawyer is fit. You want to have a lawyer whose values align with your own and with whom you will enjoy working (yes, it is possible!). Talking to a lawyer involves having some brave conversations about sensitive subjects, so you need to feel comfortable with them.

What does the future hold for Brown Lawyers?
We are working to expand our services to include Generational Mediation, and we hope to be able to add a complement of Fertility Law services to our roster by the end of this year or early next. We hope to continue to evolve our team with more amazing people who share our belief in the value of proactive and holistic planning. We look forward to a future where every family (no matter how you define that word) has a good relationship with their lawyers, and our community is stronger for it.

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