Moncton-based Tandem Law is striving to break out of the traditional mould in a very traditional field. As five lawyers practicing family law, the firm is doing things a bit differently, aiming for the most modern, affordable and effective practices to serve their clients.
Tandem partners Sheila Cameron and Tracy Peters had been practicing side by side at Actus Law, a firm Cameron founded in 2005, for over a decade before deciding to start the specialized boutique practice that’s focused primarily on family law with some practice geared towards wills and estates.
Cameron and Peters left Actus Law and formed Tandem Law in July of 2016 so they could fully focus on their preferred field.
“While I touched on some areas including civil litigation, training and collaborative law, I mainly focused on the area of family law and I really enjoyed it,” Peters says. “As you do a lot of it, you develop more skill sets and more experience in that field. [You’re] really helping the clients deal in their most difficult times and offering different options.”
Peters says it made sense for them to standardize the way they operated across the firm so they could have more of a concentration on what they’re known in the community for practicing.
Peters adds that they’ve standardized the way they operate by going fully digital and modern.
“We’re very out of the box thinkers,” Peters says. “That has nothing to do with family law but it’s the way we practice that area that makes us a lot different than other firms and other traditional ways of working.”
“The area of law itself it traditional. It’s conservative. Although we have to maintain that standard, the way we practice is modern, non-traditional.”
Cameron says their entire team meets every week to focus on the business side of the firm and talk about how they can improve efficiencies and the standardization of what they’re doing to give clients quality service no matter which member of their team is providing the service.
“You go to other law firms and certainly we’ve worked with them, we’ve worked against them, they tend to be a collection of individual practices, each running their practice differently,” Cameron says. “For us, this is a team practice and everybody has to adhere to certain team standards.”
At Tandem, they’ve developed an intake process that allows clients to see them typically 48 to 72 hours after a request is made, which can be done online. Clients go through a half hour case assessment process at no charge, at which point it’s established what the client’s issues are and which lawyer would be best suited to help them.
Cameron says once the client’s needs are established, they then begin to explore possible solutions, starting with the least expensive options like mediation and negotiation. She says court is the last resort for files that can’t be settled any other way.
While Cameron and Peters say they work very well together, they’ve also agreed to disagree on some particulars throughout the years. They’ve also learned that there are strengths in their differences.
“Although our personalities are a bit different and sometimes the approach on a file, our systems as to how we prepare documents or standardization, electronics, I would say Sheila and I are the same, exactly the same. We’re on the same page as to how to do things to get the best results,” Peters says.
Cameron adds that the greatest difference between them is that she sees the big, global picture while Peters is more detail-oriented.
“I think I have a stronger ability to look at the whole forest but then thank heavens for Tracy because she’ll say, ‘Sheila, while you were looking at the whole forest, you didn’t realize the tree over here was on fire and needs to be dealt with.’ It makes for a very good partnership because of that,” Cameron says.
Since founding the firm last year, Cameron and Peters say their overall vision has remained largely the same, but that the smaller goals that work towards this vision are constantly being adjusted.
“We did this to be able to provide the best overall family law experience to our clients and we’re continuously making it a better experience for our clients and that’s part of everything we do,” Cameron says. “The main goal was to have a highly efficient practice that provides the best possible family law experience to people in crisis and that’s still the main goal.”