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Construction is Helix Legal’s primary area of specialisation.

Janelle Kerrisk
Janelle Kerrisk August 31, 2017

Helix is committed to bringing the power of good, experienced lawyers to the market but understands that the best solutions for clients come about when lawyers collaborate with industry experts.

On 1 July 2017 we asked Michael Chesterman to join Helix Legal as a consultant with the view of bringing a new level of insight and experience to solve our client’s problems. We caught up with Michael to chat about joining the team at Helix.

Hi Michael, Welcome to Helix! You’re not a lawyer what do you think you’re doing working with a bunch of lawyers?

I admire how good lawyers, like the team assembled at Helix Legal, can breakdown a client’s legal position and provide such advice. However, the fact that I am not a lawyer allows me to establish a different type of relationship with clients than a lawyer. My sole initial focus is gaining a complete understanding of the full extent of a client’s problems or challenges before even thinking about what the solution(s) may be. Lawyers are sometimes guilty of charging into a legal solution without fully appreciating all the concerns of the client. Of course, this hasty rush to judgement does not apply to any of the Helix lawyers!

Why is Helix a good fit for you?

Helix Legal is a startup business whose foundation partners are embracing the new disrupting era of providing legal services to the community. I love change — I am a change junkie — so when the opportunity presented itself to work with such amazing people who are establishing Helix Legal’s business model along these new streamlined and client tailored lines, I jumped at the opportunity. Plus, the view when I’m working on my laptop from the rooftop terrace is doing me just fine.

What do you want to achieve in your first 12 months?

Helix Legal is recognised as a unique, client centric legal business that is without peer. I want to see our “DNA” as a defining point of difference that prospective clients can readily identify. Very importantly, we must also gain a reputation of meeting our clients service delivery expectations …and teaching them how to fish.

What do you mean when you say you teach Helix clients to fish?

Simply it means giving clients the tools, resources, guidance and education to allow them to successfully manage their business.

Why is Helix Legal different to other legal firms?

It is not tied to or restricted to the past in terms of how it offers legal services to clients. We are not supporting costly infrastructure needs and outdated “clunky” service delivery operations. As a start up business we have a blank page to create our own tailored, client responsive service where the focus is on providing clients with price certainty and holistic solutions.

Where were you before Helix?

I spent 22 years working for the building industry regulator, namely the Queensland Building Services Authority and its successor, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. Most recently I was the adjudication registrar at the QBCC.

In all your time at the BSA/QBCC what are you most proud of?

I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to achieve a number of amazing things during my time with the BSA/QBCC. In my capacity as the BSA’s inaugural Compliance Manager I was heavily involved in the development of licensing financial requirements in 1999. I also managed an extensive review of domestic building contracts in 2007 that resulted in significant changes being made to standard form contracts produced by the HIA, MBA and BSA. I heavily contributed to the development of business management materials and delivery of presentations of this nature to contractors via frequent BSA roadshows, something I loved doing. However, the thing I am most proud of is all the work I did in the area of Security of Payment for subcontractors. This entailed approximately 4 years of undertaking research and consultation (2001–2004), eventually resulting in the enactment of the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (I gave drafting instructions), followed by 13 years as the inaugural Adjudication Registrar under this piece of legislation.

You have a real ability to get to the heart of problems and work with the lawyers to achieve workable, practical solutions — why do you think the collaboration works so well?

Like I have previously stated, I love the way in which good lawyers like we have at Helix are able to distill a client’s problems and then provide specific, risk-based legal advice. However, I look at clients problems through an entirely different filter, an uninhibited view as to how best to assist them based on my extensive industry knowledge and experience. When you combine our expert legal appraisal with my practicable and strategic views, the power of collaboration is harnessed to provide the better advice to the client.

How can people find you now?

I can be contacted on or 0418 180 330.

Not intended as legal advice. Read full disclaimer.
Janelle Kerrisk
Janelle Kerrisk August 31, 2017

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