17 March 2020

How LLMs and Accredited Specialisation transformed Mitchells Solicitors

Published on 17 March 2020

Bryan Mitchell, owner of Mitchells Solicitors, is one of Australia’s foremost experts in succession law. As one of only 47 of Queensland’s Accredited Specialists in Succession Law, Bryan is a frequent speaker on complex succession law topics. Insights spoke to Bryan on how he came to specialise in wills and estates, what he enjoys most about the field, and what advice he might have for lawyers looking to pursue a specialisation in succession.

“Mitchells Solicitors is predominantly a succession law practice,” said Bryan. “This includes estate planning, estate litigation, estate administration, elder law matters and disability law matters.”

With eight full time solicitors and two consultant solicitors, it’s a thriving practice.

“The main office is in Moorooka and there are two other visited offices, one in Brisbane City and one at the Sunshine Coast,” said Bryan.

Identifying unmet legal needs

Bryan completed the College of Law’s Master of Applied Law (Wills and Estates) to help him prepare for his accreditation in succession law.

“I enjoyed studying wills and estates at the College of Law in the Master of Laws programme enormously,” said Bryan. “The course assisted me in my preparation for the assessment to become an accredited specialist in succession law. Not only that, what I learned allowed me to advise more fulsomely clients, and identify more readily a whole range of unmet legal needs.”

Benefits of structured learning

Indeed, Bryan found the experience so useful he sent a number of his own lawyers to complete the College of Law’s Masters.

“I’m a big believer in the benefits of structured learning,” Bryan said. “Don’t get me wrong, I think going to conferences and seminars is helpful, but nothing beats learning new ideas and new concepts in a structured and sequential manner over a 13 week period.

“I have encouraged a number of my employees to undertake the Wills and Estates specialist course in the College’s Masters programme. I believe it has enabled them to become much better lawyers and to better serve our clients. I also believe that learning is part of the DNA of a lawyer and that when people are learning in detail about a subject matter they practice in, they develop much greater job satisfaction.

“In other words, I encouraged this study because I believe it is better for our clients and it is better for the person studying, at so many different levels.”

Accreditation pass rates as low as 10%

Bryan credits his College of study with helping him effectively prepare for specialist accreditation.

“The pass rate to become an accredited specialist can be as low as 10%,” said Bryan. “Any little bit of help to be able to get through the assessment process is worthwhile. I believe I owe a great debt to my study group friends - all 3 of us got through together - and I also believe I owe a great debt to the College of Law course in helping me get through.”

Becoming an accredited specialist has paid dividends, transforming Mitchells Solicitors from a practice that did a significant amount of a succession work to a predominantly succession law practice.

“It has also contributed greatly to the growth in the firm, both in reputation and in activity,” said Bryan.

For lawyers looking to work in wills and estates, Bryan encourages a structured approach to learning.

“My advice: you don’t know what you don’t know,” said Bryan. “Structured learning is one of the best ways to develop a deep understanding in a particular area of law. The College of Law Wills and Estates programme helps develop a more specialised understanding of wills and estates.”