Alistair van Schalkwyk – Asco Legal
“In 2018, I was a partner in a law firm on the corner of Albert and Swanson St in the CBD, and they started to digging up the road in front of us. It was going to turn into an absolute nightmare for clients to get to us. I thought ‘Unless you’re a big law firm, you’re not servicing your clients by being in town’.
At that point we decided to move the practice to Howick, and it’s been really good for us. Now it is 3 minutes to get to work! We love the community feel here and the community has been very, very supportive.
There’s a saying ‘givers gain’ and that has always been a very strong philosophy for me; the more you give without any expectation of receiving, the more people will just support you. That translates into all facets of what we do at Asco Legal. I’ve always looked to see how I can help people. The philosophy influences the way we treat our staff and our involvement with the community. We have a very strong client focus. It’s really important for a happy business.
Last year were contacted by Simeon Brown’s team to ring up the elderly, more vulnerable people who live locally to see how they were coping with lockdown. We had a spreadsheet of numbers to call and dished it out among the team. It was a good way to give back and provide support during a very difficult time. We sponsor the Santa Parade, the Carnival at Cockle Bay school, the local Howick Click events and other local sort of charities.
We are a full-service firm with a team of seven. We have a strong focus in buying and selling residential and commercial property and also businesses. There are two winners, and that’s what I like about what we do. You know that the vendor wants to sell and the purchaser wants to buy; everyone’s happy about the transaction happening. Part-and-parcel of that is we have a lot of business clients where we’ve had 20-30 year-plus relationships, and we know what makes them tick. I think that’s what they like about the way we operate.
Technology can now really enable a lot of that direct client service to make us more efficient; because if we are more efficient, we can deliver more value to our clients. If you want to talk to me, you can just phone me, whereas traditionally at law firms firstly you through to the receptionist, then to the PA, then to someone else. Our new phone system integrates with our practice management software, so all the calls and the file notes pull straight from those conversations into the files, and we have accurate records of all the calls made and received, plus file notes relating to those conversations.
Our goal is to be paperless, and we are moving quickly in that direction. Even a couple of staff members who were reluctant about the change and were forced to go more paperless during the lockdowns were converted. It’s so easy! That is what we are trying to do in the legal space, to be at the forefront of the community and the forefront of technology.”