Since I last posted I’ve (a) ticked another item off the bucket list (watching an Ashes (cricket) test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground) (b) celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary and (c) begun studying for my MCE.
Going back to University 23 years after I finished my law degree is the biggest challenge – and one that I’m loving so far. What I’ve already had confirmed is that the pace of innovation in every aspect of our lives is increasing exponentially (that’s a mathematical fact, not just hyperbole) and requires a new mindset about how we build our businesses to take advantage of the new possibilities that are being created. Old dogs have to learn new tricks.
This includes the way that we practice law. We are constantly reviewing our technology set-up – we already use cloud solutions like Google mail, Actionstep, Dropbox, Carbonite and Xero to run our business but we are looking at whether our hardware/operating system combination is also best practice – we love our iPhones but do we need Windows 8 tablets? We’re also looking for ways to remove even more paper from our lives – there are some hard copy “original” documents that we still need to keep in physical form, but most of our filing is now electronic. The great thing about this technology revolution is how it allows smaller firms to get ahead of their larger rivals – we can implement a fleet of new iPads or deploy a new cloud-based application in an afternoon if we want to. Just try doing that in a 100 (or 1000) person company!
As another year draws to a close, I am sure that my 2014 resolutions will include posting more blogs to stay in touch with our loyal band of clients and followers. In November Nick Hodson Lawyers had its 4th birthday. That time has passed in a flash. We have loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute…) and it has been fantastic to see our clients not only survive the GFC, but thrive as the economy has come right. This year we’ve worked on some great jobs and with some really interesting businesses. These include Konnect’s latest capital raising and expansion into Australia, Mercer Group’s North American licensing deal for its new sterilisation technology, Navman Wireless’s new service offerings, NZ PGA’s merger discussions with NZ Golf (and re-structuring of their main tournaments), Merlot Aero’s sales to a range of international airlines, and the birth of some cool new companies like taxi app developer, Zoomy. We’ve also expanded our SME network by joining BOB (business over breakfast) clubs in Mt Eden and the city – which has been great fun and put us in touch with a new group of businesses.
2014 promises to be a busy one too. In my spare (?) time I will start a MCE (Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship) at the University of Auckland Business School and Jeremy will be getting married to Jackie in March. Our office will also have a new roof (currently being installed) which will hopefully spell the end to surprise floods.
But before then, there’s the summer to enjoy. Best wishes to you and yours for a relaxing and re-charging holiday.
In an age where it seems that anyone can google the answer to every imaginable question, why haven’t “experts” like lawyers been consigned to the historical dustbin? I think that there are two possible explanations – the first is that finding the right answer depends on being able to ask the right question. Secondly, despite the massive advances in computing power, there is no substitute for the experience and judgment that a seasoned professional can offer.
A short story (taken from some real life episodes) may help to illustrate the point. Continue reading
New Year’s resolutions seem to be easy to make and even easier to break. What’s needed is an incentive to follow through on those promises that you made to yourself on holiday this summer.
A carrot is generally a more powerful incentive than a stick – I’ll follow through on a resolution to call my customers more often because there will be an immediate pay off in the form of higher sales. In contrast the “reward” for following through on my resolution to get my company’s contracts reviewed and tidied up by my lawyer is that I may avoid a legal dispute or a bad debt at some undetermined date in the future. Continue reading
Is it really November already?! In one of our last business-related blogs for 2012, we discuss the new consumer law changes and force majeure clauses in ICT contracts.
NZ consumer law reform
The Commerce Select Committee has been knee-deep in the Consumer Law Reform Bill which heralds the most significant changes to our consumer law since the Consumer Guarantees Act came into force in April 1994. Although the Bill is a while away from becoming law, you should be aware of the thrust of the proposed changes – and there are some things you can be thinking about doing right now to prepare for it. Continue reading
New offices: Our big news is that we have moved into new offices in the Konnect Building. A small, but perfectly formed, space became available in August and, after a quick fire makeover under the guiding hand of Jackie Jones Interior Design, we moved in at the start of September. It’s exciting to share a building with two fantastic growth companies – Konnect and Lanzatech. We hope some of their success will rub off on us. All our contact details remain the same – but please drop in and visit if you are in Parnell.
New lawyer: We are going to be sharing our new offices with Rachel Colley’s new firm – AXIS IP. Rachel is a trade marks and intellectual property specialist with tons of experience advising owners of local and global brands about how to get the most out of their IP. Rachel’s on assignment in Sydney this month, but we look forward to her return in November. Continue reading
Legal blogs often look at the impact of the decisions in court cases on how people do business. As commercial lawyers we try and steer our clients clear of court and the eye-watering costs that litigation involves. Today I want to share some recent (real life) experiences that we have had with statutory demands. A statutory demand is a tool available under the Companies Act to allow a creditor to apply to have a company wound up if it doesn’t pay an undisputed bill.
For creditors it seems like a relatively cheap option – get your lawyer to prepare a short statutory demand, serve it on the company, wait for 21 days and if no payment is forthcoming, head off to court to get the debtor wound up. Continue reading
Tomorrow night I’ll be attending the 20th reunion of my law professionals class. In June 1992, I was one of 40 law graduates admitted to the bar in the Christchurch High Court and let loose as newly qualified lawyers. Our first goal was to nail down a job – at the start of our 13 week course only one of us was employed. We sent our CVs to every law firm and recruiter we could find in the country. Eventually most of us got our first jobs and we were on our way.
Law graduates in 2012 face a similarly difficult challenge. After a real boom for lawyers over the past 15 years, the market for law graduates is again going through a tough time. In the 90’s and noughties every young lawyer I knew headed overseas for their OE after a couple of years working here. As an employer, it was a nightmare to attract and keep the best graduates. As the boom intensified, overseas firms were even employing graduates with no experience. Starting salaries with six figures in $US or $AU were possible for the brightest. Continue reading
Every day there seems to be another sensational story about the turbulent relationship between business and sport. This week a couple of the billionaires involved in football’s A League are scrapping – in one corner is the Chairman of the FFA and Westfield founder Frank Lowy and in the other, thirty-something mining magnate Nathan Tinkler – owner of the Newcastle Jets (and NRL club, the Newcastle Knights). Lawyers are primed for action on both sides.
It makes the news when sport and business collide – one of my favourite examples is the (now jailed) Ponzi scheme conman Allan Stanford who tried to buy world cricket, starting with the England team. Continue reading
Last night I was invited to attend the New Zealand International Business Awards 2012. The finalists came from a very wide range of industries – some that you might expect like the dairy industry (Westland Milk) and others that you might not, like the largest supplier of cinema ticketing and site management software in the world, Vista Entertainment.
I’m not the first person to notice it, but there are some very obscure business niches dominated by New Zealand companies. If you can be the world’s biggest anything, chances are that it can be big business – Vista Entertainment’s 83 staff generated $24.1m revenue in 2010. Continue reading