Guest: Robert Ishak
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Robert Ishak is one of the Co-Founders and Chairman of William Roberts Lawyers. He currently holds a great deal of accreditation and recognition, not just from his background in the academic world, but also to his peers, as he is highly regarded as a lawyer who approaches his cases with an ethical approach and personal integrity.
Segment Overview: William Roberts Lawyers is a boutique commercial litigation and commercial law firm. Founded in 2005, they credit their success to their clients. They offer the best experience a client can get with their values, which is to deliver outstanding legal services that represent the true value of their clients transactions, and offering the best technology for their clients needs, information and transparency. You can find them and their offices across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and joining me in conversation today is Robert Ishak. Robert is the Principal within Roberts Lawyers and he’s joining us from Sydney in Australia. Robert, welcome to the show.
Robert Ishak: Thank you for having me Wayne.
Wayne: Now Robert, it’s bit of a give away when I say it’s William Roberts Lawyers, but it’s one of those business titles that encaptures a whole lot. How would you describe what is that you do?
Robert: Sure. So William Roberts Lawyers is a boutique commercial litigation and transactional practice. What’s commercial litigation mean? It means that we undertake any type of commercial dispute – that can be a contract dispute, a trade practices dispute, a consumer dispute, insurance dispute, anything of a commercial flavor where there’s an issue of contention between two or more parties.
Wayne: And being in that commercial space, there’s a lot of scope for disputes I guess at one end of the table needing a calm head to talk quietly to the parties and at the other end, “off we got to whatever court that happens to be.”
Robert: That’s right. And disputes can be as small as $1,000 in dispute up to what William Roberts have undertaken a quarter of a billion dollars in dispute and everywhere in between. Obviously enough, the form, or court or tribunal is dictated by a couple of things – one, the amount in dispute and two, what relief the plaintiff is speaking.
Wayne: Robert for those people who are listening to us, can you give us a sketch about where your footprint is in terms of geography and also how big a firm, William Roberts is?
Robert: Sure. So William Roberts is geographically located in the CBD of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We also have an office in Singapore. Notwithstanding, we do undertake matters for our institutional clients particularly across Australia.
Wayne: Is there a common theme to the sorts of things that you deal with?
Robert: Yes. As a general proposition, we’ve got an insurance litigation team. We’ve got a building construction disputes team, we’ve got a banking and finance disputes team and then we’ve got a general commercial disputes team and a transactions team. So the first lot of teams break deals and the last one makes them.
Wayne: That’s an excellent way to look at it. It hadn’t occur to me that both sides of the coin will be involved here. Now when people come to you or when firms come to you and I guess you deal with both, what is the advice you give them about when do you involve your lawyers? When does the process start if the outcome is going to be as good as it can be?
Robert: Sure. First of all in any commercial deal where there’s lots of money involved or if not lots of money to begin with, lots of money that may become involved, it’s always a good idea to get a lawyer early in the piece. And the reason for that is because a lawyer’s first job in my view is to keep you outside the courtroom. Even when a dispute arises, our job is to keep you out of the courtroom. And in fact in New South Wales, Section 56 of the Civil Procedure Act talks about each party and their lawyers representatives’ obligation for the just quick entry per solution of a dispute.
Wayne: Right. And in practice, is that a regular outcome in the commercial world of things often get resolved before they got to court?
Robert: They do. By engaging solicitors, you bring an objective dispassion of mind to the dispute. And generally, clients listen to their lawyers and matters are resolved. A good resolution, I’ve got a saying which is “A good resolution is when both parties are unhappy. The plaintiff thinks that they’re receiving too little and the defendant thinks that they are paying too much.” It means you’ve hit the sweet spot.
Wayne: Yes. I guess that’s very true, isn’t it? No one ever walks away entirely happy. If we’re both equally unhappy, that’s probably a reasonable outcome.
Robert: Look, parties who dispute, the advice I can give them is that they are best off focusing on their business, resolving the dispute, closing the book on it and getting on with life. People also need to particularly in business, need to understand that resolving a dispute is actually a process. You have the process of identifying the dispute, the process of looking at the defenses to the dispute and then the process of the evidence in support of the dispute or against it and then resolution, be it outside of court or in court.
Wayne: Now Robert for lots of people listening who are in the business community and for someone who’s contemplating getting involved in a big deal or has a dispute around an issue, why would they choose William Roberts as a firm to act on their behalf?
Robert: What you should be looking for in any lawyer and not just us at William Roberts is looking for that specialization. And specialization can be identified by reference to the lawyer being an accredited specialist in that particular area of law or they’ve been practicing and experienced in that area of law for a very long time. So for example William Roberts Lawyers won’t touch a family-law dispute, we won’t touch a criminal matter. Why? Because we’re not at best placed to do it. On the other hand if it’s a commercial dispute or commercial transaction, we’ve got accredited specialists in our practice that can help you. In terms of the other reasons why William Roberts would be a good alternative or good choice would be first, we give our corporate and institutional clients online access to their matters which means that they have complete transparency. What that means is for the client is it reduces legal cost. So instead of calling up the lawyer and asking “Where is my matter up to?” The client can jump online, have a look at their matter and get that update and only if there’s an issue or some feedback that they want to give, do they contact their lawyer. So that has two ramifications, one is complete transparency and two is a reduction in cost. The other proposition that William Roberts offers is alternative billing methods which might be attractive to the business community in addition to the traditional time-costing model.
Wayne: Now Robert, one of my questions I like to ask is whether firms have got something to hang on the wall, some proof, some public recognition and awards. Are you a firm that has been recognized for those sort of things?
Robert: Yes, we certainly are. We take a firm view that we need to look after our employees and a recognition of that is that we have been the “Employer of Choice” for the last three years running. We take the view that if we look after our employees, our employees will look after our clients.
Wayne: Well, that’s a nice trophy to have hanging on the wall I’m sure.
Robert: It is. We’re also a finalist for “Dispute Resolution Team of the Year” for a few years running and me for “Partner of the Year in Litigation” for a few years running.
Wayne: The trophy wall in the boardroom must be well populated.
Robert: It is.
Wayne: Robert, for people who have been listening to us who are interested in getting hold of you, William Roberts is the firm or yourself, what’s the best way to get in touch?
Robert: Our Sydney number, 9552 2111 or our website williamroberts.com.au.
Wayne: I’ve been in conversation with Robert Ishak, the Principal of William Roberts Lawyers. Robert, thank you for your time this morning. I really do appreciate it. I realize your busy.
Robert: Thank you Wayne.
Wayne: If you’ve just missed my conversation with Robert, the good is on our website, we have a transcript of the conversation or you can listen to this SoundCloud archive. We also have the same archive on iTunes and YouTube. My name is Wayne Bucklar, you’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM.