One of CIE Legal’s characteristics is that we’re different – in a good way.
Nowhere is this more evident than in our advice format.
Long, old-fashioned, dense and complicated written advice isn’t our style.
At CIE Legal, we present our advice colourfully and visually, in plain English and providing the answer right at the start.
We caught up with Rebecca Browne, Senior Legal Counsel at Ford Australia, to understand her impressions of CIE Legal’s style of advice.
Clear question. Clear answer.
CIE Legal’s advice documents all begin the same way: with a clear question and a clear answer, usually only a line or two long.
Rebecca likes the fact that there’s a set structure to our advice documents – “I know what to expect and it’s so much easier to understand advice in CIE Legal’s format than in a lengthy, more formal advice or even a ‘quick’ email.”
She finds the clear question, clear answer format particularly helpful. “There’s a skill to homing in on the question we actually want answered. I know it can take some intellectual work from the CIE Legal team to figure out what the question is and answer it clearly – but that’s what really makes the difference.”
Rebecca has even found herself adopting this approach when instructing the team at CIE Legal. “It has actually had an impact on the way I instruct! Now, I stop to make sure I have the question really clear in my mind before I go ahead and instruct. It’s helped me hone my thinking.”
One of the challenges for in-house lawyers using law firms is that written advice often needs to be adapted or summarized before it can be shared with the business, resulting in a duplication of effort. Our advice format was created precisely with this issue in mind – to be shared with and understood by commercial colleagues, without any further work from the in-house lawyer.
Says Rebecca: “the plain English approach and format of CIE Legal’s advice really benefits me because I can share their work directly with business owners. If I get a written advice from a law firm, I often have to summarize or paraphrase it before I share it. I don’t need to do that with CIE Legal. In fact, there have been a few occasions where I haven’t even had to add anything to the covering email – the advice is so clear.”
“I’m absolutely confident that the business owners I share CIE’s advice with can read and absorb the content. Yesterday I was speaking to a business owner about one of the advices that Raph and Will prepared. When she saw it, she really liked it and commented on how clear and easy it is to follow”.
All of our team at CIE Legal make a real effort to use plain English and concise language in written communication.
For Rebecca, this is a notable feature of CIE Legal advices, “CIE make a real effort to keep their work as brief as possible while including the discussion or analysis that’s needed.”
“They try to use direct language and if they can keep it short, they will.”
No-one finds information easy to absorb via dense black & white text. That’s why our advice format incorporates colour and shape. Our advices are colourful, with well-spaced text. And wherever we can, we use visual elements: tables, flowcharts, photos or diagrams.
Rebecca finds this style a breath of fresh air. “I love the use of colour and the way the text is spaced. It makes the information easy to absorb and engage with.”
“Even the fact your advice is in landscape format – it’s such a simple thing – but it makes a huge difference because it’s in slide style. With the hybrid work environment we’re all working in now, I’m quite often on a Webex sharing my screen and this sort of format suits being viewed and shared on a screen – it’s easy for viewers to follow.”
“Also, you use visual tools, which I really like. In a couple of the advices that Kaye has provided, she has used tables, which made it so much easier to understand than a simple paragraph approach.”
Quality people. Quality output.
For Rebecca, this easy-to-use style of advice didn’t happen by chance: it’s the result of the quality of people at CIE Legal and their willingness to challenge convention and improve, “I’m impressed by the whole firm. Partners, senior associates and more junior lawyers, there’s a real quality about CIE Legal people – they’re good people with excellent skills and great personalities. I feel like the partners have put a lot of thought into the right people to attract and retain at CIE Legal. You have stand-out lawyers and stand-out people. The business owners love them, and they build rapport easily.”