Deakin law alumna Marianne Marchesi has taken out the Sole Practitioner of the Year award at this year’s Australian Law Awards.
Marianne’s firm Legalite was established 18 months ago and set out to disrupt the traditional way of delivering legal services by providing a smooth, transparent and responsive client service.
She says that winning the category award at the recent Sydney ceremony was a ‘huge honour’ that’s also given her the opportunity to reflect on how far the firm has come in such a short time.
‘I am very fortunate to have the support of my clients, team, family and friends who constantly encourage and believe in me and what Legalite stands for. The Awards are incredible recognition of the community we’ve built and the hard work that has gone into building Legalite.’
Marianne studied a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws at Deakin after making the decision at a very young age that she wanted to be a lawyer.
‘Initially I thought I’d practise family law but after gaining some work experience and completing an elective in family law, I realised I was more suited to the commercial and business side of the law. I’ve grown up in an entrepreneurial family and felt a real pull towards working with other business owners,’ she explains.
After finishing her studies in 2008, Marianne completed a graduate clerkship at Deacons (now Norton Rose Fulbright) where she rotated through a range of commercial areas. However sensing that that the ‘big law’ environment wasn’t for her, she spent the next year working in a number of quasi-legal roles, including an in-house role with Tattslotto.
‘I then decided to give private practice another go and moved to MST Lawyers, a medium-sized suburban firm where I specialised in franchising. I ended up staying at MST for four years before moving to a boutique firm, then finally establishing Legalite in February 2017.’
Specialising in business and franchising, Legalite is now setting a new benchmark in the delivery of legal services that’s included the elimination of billable hours and manual processing.
‘We operate on an entirely fixed fee model and are 100% paperless. This means we can focus on quality work, developing trusted relationships with clients and foster a genuinely flexible working environment,’ says Marianne.
She predicts that increasingly, more law firms will swing towards transparent pricing models such as fixed fees.
‘The hourly rate no longer has a place in the profession as clients understandably want more certainty, and lawyers don’t want to be limited by the time pressures of a billable hour model. Fixed fees allow lawyers to be more productive and enjoy truly trusted relationships with their clients.’
While Marianne loves working with business owners and watching their growth, development and success, she’s also learning to manage the responsibilities of being a small business owner.
‘Being the owner of a law firm has some challenges in terms of time management – not only do I practise law, but I also manage staff and am responsible for business development, networking, marketing and everything in between!’
Her advice for law students and graduates is to take time to find the right law practice fit and keep focused on the end goal.
‘I think it’s important not to have fixed view of what it means to practise law but be flexible in where a career can go. Studying law and trying to find a job straight out of uni can sometimes be difficult, but it’s important to have a persistent attitude and remember why you studied law in the first place.’