Interview with Dennis Liner Co-founder of Tisher Liner FC Law

Written by AMK Law

December 12, 2019

Today, we’ve got an amazing guest, a real privilege to have and one of Matthew’s mentors, Dennis Liner, here with us.

And we’re at the Law Institute of Victoria. First of all, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we’re in today and pay my respects to the Elders past, present and future.

Dennis has got a fantastic story.

Dennis started a firm called Tisher Liner FC Law.

How and When did you start?

I set myself up the day after I got admitted. I was setting myself up in Gardenvale, which was a little-known suburb near Brighton VIC. I just called it Dennis Liner, and after about two years, I found that I couldn’t handle all the work and all the variety of work. And I was in I was introduced to Frank Tisher, he was in a similar position. So we got together and handled some work. I handled some work too so we splited and swaped files, and it worked quite well. And we’re pretty busy, and we got another partner, Alan Goldstone and we’ve been merging. Now I think the firm got about 60, over 60 people working in it. But I retired from the firm about three years ago to concentrate on my mediation work, you know, doing mediation, do a bit of coaching, mentoring bits and pieces.  

Matthew: When you look at it, you can go back for a moment, because I think the story of you joining with Frank Tisher and then creating your partnership for many years and growing a such a successful firm. I think that’s a great story. Many partnerships fail. But you all seem to have succeeded.

What are some of the key points that go into creating a successful partnership?

Dennis: Look, I think it’s often just personalities. Partnerships fall apart, often because of personalities. Sometimes somebody does not work hard enough. That’s often a problem. Luckily, we’re both pretty easy going. Lifestyle was a very important part for both of us. I suppose we could have made more money over the years, but, we both were family orientated and, whenever my children at school had something to do, I’d take time off and go and see them. Frank would also do the same. School holidays would take off and spend it with the family. And when I came in, we continued and said lifestyle is very important at the expense of getting more money. It’s that’s not everything. It’s a matter of having a good balance of work and life. And I think we got it.

And, you know, so I’m pretty happy with how it went back in those early days when you found the right partner, somebody that had the same interests, the same attitudes to work and money.

Matthew: You then started developing and scaling your firm. How did you go about setting up all those processes and systems and things like that to make sure everything was done?

That just trial and error. I’ve always enjoyed technology, and I’ve always had the technology. So the accounting and all late precedents have all been of ways, latest technology. We spent probably too much in the early days. Technology moved on, you know, first-hand where we started. You didn’t have calculators, didn’t have computers. Definitely not computers and I think we had the cloud before we even heard of the cloud. We didn’t call it the cloud. It was really just using finding somebody that had offsite servers, and they looked after our requirements. Today people say, you know, we put things on the cloud — same thing. But never, never existed in that terminology those days. So we’ve had that for years.

“Marketing is a big thing. It’s. And word of mouth. I mean, you keep existing clients happy. They refer you. And that’s the best source of work.”

Matthew: And I know technology is a great passion of yours. I think you were the first person that I ever saw where an Apple Watch?

Dennis: I still got it. Yes. I go shopping, use apple pay, I pay bills with it, everything!

Matthew: And then it’s the technology in the legal profession come a long way. It has changed a lot since you first started on your own. You know, just after being admitted. What are some of the most significant impacts you’ve experienced in terms of technology in the law?

Dennis: Oh, it’s really changed. I mean, as I said, I was like the technology new ways on campus. It was sort of got the latest. But it’s changed. I mean, nowadays, people work from home, you can see at the time on a computer, and it’s exactly the same as if you’re working in an office. I think that sort of decentralized a lot of work put. I’ve got a daughter. She works 2 1/2 days at home. She’s a lawyer and just as if she was working in an office. Myself at the moment, I do everything from home on a computer that I that need, everything is electronic. People send documents, the e-mail and the Internet is everything. Yes. Once upon a time, small practitioners were really quite a disadvantage because the large firms had big libraries for research and so forth. And today this can be done from a cheap laptop and press a few buttons and it’s there. Yes. So, they build small firms to compete with big firms with knowledge and access to resources. Yes. And that’s very important, and technology probably was a big factor in terms of you being able to really enjoy a successful legal career, but also keep family as a priority.

So even when you’re away, you still can be in touch with e-mails and technology and communications.

Matthew: One final question I’d like to ask you today:

Say there’s a young law firm just sort of launched in its early days and wanting to grow. Are there any point is that you can share on how that firm can grow?

Dennis: Marketing is a big thing. It’s. And word of mouth. I mean, you keep existing clients happy. They refer you. And that’s the best source of work. Yes. You know, getting you to know, having clients that know other people and the groups. Yes. And over the years, you wonder where people come from. Yes. It is always interesting to ask new clients. Why did you come to me? Oh, and so my friend said, you know, have I used you, and I was happy with you. Yes. And I think that’s the main source.  You’ve got to find also a point of difference. You know, that you would check people or interest in that area. But basically, if you are competent and clients like how you handle it, they’ll make a decision.

Matthew: And I think that that quality of service is such a fundamental point. And it doesn’t matter what industry you dream if you’re in the legal services industry as a lawyer if you’re in some other industry by working hard, being disciplined, servicing your clients with a fantastic product or service then means that your reputation builds. People come back and send their friends.

Dennis: Exactly right. 

Matthew: Thank you so much for your time today.

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