Testimonials

Gary Mcilwee - Esquires Bayfair

Your book was great.  I have done HR courses for previous employers and never understood things as clearly as now, I think they only managed to make me fear making mistakes even more...( I think the HR department just wanted to prove they were all needed).
Gary McIlwee, Esquires Bayfair
Finding a lawyer who is knowledgeable, friendly and willing to listen to your concerns is not always easy

In my case I needed someone with all these attributes who was willing to offer advice in a case which needed to be handled with delicacy and care. Michael was such a lawyer. His knowledge of law and procedure was matched by his friendly and approachable style. I feel as if I received sound advice throughout the handling of my case and was pleased with the outcome. I would certainly recommend him to others.
Daniel Poratt
His great understanding of Employment Law made a tough situation much easier to deal with

I thought lawyers were just after money but Michael wanted to help and was easy to work with. His great understanding of Employment Law made a tough situation much easier to deal with in a fair and honest manner not to mention at a reasonable price. His fast result and professional service has changed my perception of lawyers totally.

Aidan Lett, West Surfing
New Zealand is very fortunate to have you and I'm very envious

As a Small Business Coach in Alberta, Canada, I've been intrigued by the information you've been making available from approachablelawyer.com. I've tried to find a lawyer in Canada that has your flare and interest in expanding the legal practice beyond the office. So far I've been unsuccessful. New Zealand is very fortunate to have you and I'm very envious. Thanks for the approval to use articles that will apply across the pond on my site! 

Ruby Curran, Acidental HR
A nasty situation put to rest with minimum disruption to the business

I had an employee situation of the worst kind. Michael came highly recommended from a colleague and he promptly advised us of our obligations and rights as an employer to put this nasty situation to rest with minimum disruption to the business. It was dealt with quickly, professionally and the recommendation was thoroughly justified

Mark Dixon, Format Interiors, Auckland
Like most people I thought that dealing with a lawyer would be costly, complicated and drawn out

Dealing with Michael Smyth of Approachable Lawyer wasn't' like that at all. I really appreciated the speed with which you sorted out my problem and the simplicity with which every aspect was dealt with. There was a good return on my investment in terms of your fee which eased the pain but also the fact that you were very straight with the facts not pushy and sympathetic to my needs. Most important to me was maintaining my dignity and protecting my professional reputation whilst gaining financial security. Those aims were achieved so I would most certainly recommend your services because in an employee situation you need a third party to represent you and protect you at vulnerable times in your professional career. Not only that, for a lawyer, you are a nice bloke!

Annette Lee
His clear and easy guide to prices meant there were no nasty surprises later on

I had always put lawyers into the "longwinded and expensive" box. But what I found about Michael was that he was accessible, prompt and met my delivery timeframes - especially after I had plied him with coffee and churros. I particularly liked his easy and straightforward approach. The clear and easy guide to his prices meant that there were no nasty surprises later on. It was certainly refreshing to have advice that was down to earth and prompt (with or without the churros). I would certainly recommend him and Approachable Lawyer to other small or medium sized business with a budget for good cup of coffee and churros. Oh, and did I mention the churros...?
Tash McGill, Solafida Creative Management
Without you onboard the outcome would not have been so positive

I just wanted to thank you for the superb job you did for us. Your input and support was invaluable and there is no question that without you onboard the outcome would not have been so positive. Although the issue probably appeared small to you the outcome was so important to our club. The player is now a keen member of the squad. The things I appreciated most was your accessibility and positive, but honest view of the situation. I enjoyed working with you and definitely look forward to using you in a proactive manner in the near future. I will continue to highly recommend your services to who ever will listen. Once again thanks mate, You're a gem!
Tony Benson, Hibiscus Coast Raiders Rugby League Team
Both the level and standard of services that Michael provides far exceeds our original expectations

Throughout the period that Michael has been associated with New Zealand Gymnastics he has impressed us with his professional approach to client service. In relation to both legal and sporting issues we have found him to be a very knowledgeable person who undertakes thorough research of the topic and its application to the business of New Zealand Gymnastics. New Zealand Gymnastics consider that both the level and standard of services that Michael provides far exceeds our original expectations. His 'after hours' accessibility is an additional benefit that befits his knowledge and passion for sport. It is of great assistance to us that he is available to follow through and provide additional assistance as and when required. This may be in dispute resolution, members meetings or topical presentations to the Board of Directors or the Annual General Meeting.
Marie Stechman, Executive Director, New Zealand Gymnastics
Employment law should be left to the experts like yourself

Your newsletter continues to emphasise to me that the field of employment law should be left for the experts like yourself and is no arena for a rooky player.
Peter Mackenzie, Mackenzie Law, Auckland
Practical assistance on very short notice – A fantastic asset for a franchisee to have

What a fabulous letter. It appears to have done the trick. Michael, I have very much appreciated your practical assistance on very short notice over the past few days. I am also very grateful for your willingness to attend the meeting. You are a fantastic asset for an Esquire's franchisee to have close at hand.
Patrick Abbott, Franchise owner, Esquires Coffee Houses, New Zealand.
We don’t have to wait around for the “every six minute billers” to gather every man and his chargeable dog to become involved in a quick “yes you can or no that’s illegal” decision

What can I say? Having Mike on tap every month is a huge relief. We have often found that we may have just one question we need a legal answer for. This may happen once in a month it may happen 20 times. The bottom-line is we now know that if anything crops up we can get an answer and fast so we don't end up breaking any employment laws that we haven't managed to read the latest legislation and updates on. Not only that we don't have to wait around for the "every six minute billers" to gather every man and his chargeable dog to become involved in a quick "yes you can or no that's illegal" decision.


Unlike you average lawyer Mike has a sense of humour (yes we we're surprised too!) and his well worded letters are a constant source of delight with their clever use of the English vocabulary and boundaries within the law.


As a business owner that likes to have an answer "NOW" Mike has also demonstrated he has the patience of a saint who can handle the most "challenging and demanding" of clients.

Sarah Lee, Creative Director, IT Maniacs
Now we rarely have employment issues

As one of New Zealand's fastest growing franchises, the potential for employment disputes is huge. Prior to using Michael and the Hotline we had already been taken to mediation by one employee and advised to pay compensation because of a slip up in process. I learnt my lesson from that case, and two years ago retained Michael to advise us and our franchisees. Since then we have only had one employment dispute which was withdrawn by the employee before reaching trial. The biggest benefit of the Hotline is that our franchisees are able to call Michael to get advice before they have a problem. As a result we rarely have employment issues. For that reason alone the Hotline is invaluable, but it also enables me to offer added value to any person considering buying an Esquires franchise. I would recommend the Hotline to any business owner and particularly to any franchisor wanting to add value to its franchise model.
Stuart Deeks, Managing Director, Esquires Coffee Houses, New Zealand
Great fountain of legal information & assurance

I find it invaluable have Michael Smyth available at the end of my finger tips to run questions by. His services and passing of information are well worth the membership fee we pay annually and the monthly newsletters are definitely a must read everytime. Thank you oh great fountain of legal information & assurance! You rock!!
Nita Heard, NeoGine Communication Design Limited, Wellington
I only employ one person yet already have questions

Even though I have only one employee, I think this will be very useful to me as I already have some issues to sort out with him. I am also looking at employing a part time person, so I have some questions on this already. I will most certainly refer your services to my clients as well
Johan Grobler, Tetra Electronics, Auckland
I was far less stressed because of the constant support

I didn't think I'd need a lawyer just because I was hiring an employee. Then things went wrong. Quite wrong, I must add. And boy, was I glad I had a water-tight employment agreement. What also helped was that I was able to let go of the employee at 2 days notice, simply because of the constant advice, and the solid paperwork I had in place. And it was all thanks to the Approachable Lawyer. I did have to spend a few anxious days while dismissing my employee, but I was far less stressed, because of the constant support and the fact that I could get in touch with Mike at a moment's notice and have my worries resolved. I'd say any business owner would be foolish to not have access to a hotline such as this.
Sean D'Souza, Psychotactics.com
The Legal Hotline is cost effective and provides value for money

The whole area of employment law is disconcerting at the best of times for a novice and engaging someone in this area is generally a costly exercise. However, I have found the Legal Hotline to be very cost effective service providing good value for money. The service is confidential and backed up with timely and accurate advice. Refreshingly, Michael uses non jargonistic language which demystifies otherwise difficult to understand legal terms. Most recently we had a redundancy situation and by using Michael I am confident that we followed an informed process and got the right result for all concerned. Overall, we get a speedy service and I would, and frequently do, recommend the Approachable Lawyer to other businesses we deal with.
Lynlee Wilson, The People Group, Auckland
I would definitely recommend you and the Hotline to other businesses because of your expertise and because you are approachable

I knew from the outset that you were professional and that I could rely upon you. That's why I signed up for the Legal Hotline. When I started using the Hotline my perception didn't change. I like the way I can talk to you personally, the fact that you are a specialist in your field, and that your documentation is easy to read. I would definitely recommend you and the Hotline to other businesses because of your expertise and because you are approachable.
Bryan Berry, Bryan Berry Panel Beaters, Auckland
Without the Manual I would still be lumbered with this employee disrupting my business

As soon as I received the Manual I read it from cover to cover. It immediately came in handy as I had an employee who went AWOL just before Christmas. This type of behaviour from the employee in question had started to become a pattern previously. I followed the processes outlined in the Manual and used the letters on the CD which put the ball firmly in the employee's court to improve or find something else. He then chose to avoid my calls, became abusive when I tried to get hold of him and eventually walked out 4 days before Christmas. I then sent him a letter putting him on notice of abandonment of employment and haven't heard from him since. Without the Manual I would still be lumbered with this employee disrupting my business.
Learna Tatana, TWU Limited
I like the logical sequence of the material throughout the manual and the absence of legal gobbledy-gook

Before I bought the Manual I thought it would be another law book written by a lawyer for the use of other lawyers. But on receiving the manual I was pleasantly surprised to find a refreshing absence of lawyer-speak and instead a readable and understandable text. I like the logical sequence of the material throughout the manual and the absence of legal gobbledy-gook. The content is extensive and in sufficient detail to grasp the issues without becoming mired in trivia. It has a practical layout for ease of reference and locating particular information required. I would definitely recommend it to someone else because it explains the background and concepts to employment law issues plus practical "how to" advice.
Peter Mackenzie, Mackenzie Law, lawyers
From a practical perspective I found the CD of template letters the most valuable

Overall I have found the Small Business Dismissal Manual to be very good and simple to follow. It will be and is of use to my business and I believe other businesses will find the same thing. I am not a lawyer but it appears to be legally accurate yet the layout is easy to follow and I particularly like the analogies used to explain the principles. From a practical perspective I found the CD of template letters the most valuable. I would definitely recommend it to other small businesses.
Michael Major, Soul Limited, Interior Design and Project Management
I would rate both the content and the layout as excellent

Before I bought the Manual I was hoping that it was going to be a constructive tool which I could use in my business: when I read I it I found that it was exactly that. The Small Business Dismissal Manual is easy to understand and is laid out in such a way that it is easy to locate specific areas of interest. I would rate both the content and the layout as excellent and have already recommended it to my clients.
Steve Furlong, Furlong and Associates, Chartered Accountants
When you hear that a book has been written by a lawyer you think that it is going to be filled with "lawyer speak

When you hear that a book has been written by a lawyer you think that it is going to be filled with "lawyer speak" and difficult to understand. When I read the Small Business Dismissal Manual I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was nothing like that all. It is written in plain English in a language that anyone can understand and the layout is very easy on the eye. I have already recommended the Manual to other people and when I lent my copy to someone to take a look, he couldn't get it out of my hands quick enough!
Gail Godfrey, J T Jamieson Finance
Great use to my business

Overall I have found the Small Business Manual to be excellent and believe it will be of great use to my business and other businesses. I have found the layout be very concise and clear and have already recommended the Manual to other businesses.
Garth Buxton, Fahey Fence Hire, temporary fencing specialists
I have 100% faith in his ability to tailor an agreement for me

My old agreement was not only out of date but also hard to understand. When I chose Michael to update it for me it was mainly because I have 100% faith in his ability to tailor an agreement for my business without me having to think too much about it. When the agreement arrived in my inbox I found it was very simple to understand. The only bits I needed to fill in were on the front page and most of that had already been completed for me. The addition of my logo on the bottom also gave it that "made to measure" feel which is exactly what I was looking for. I now don't have to worry about my agreement going out of date since, as a member of his Employment Club, if the law changes so does my agreement.
Gail Godfrey, J T Jamieson Financiers Limited
I needed peace of mind

When it came to employment agreements my first inclination was to download a template off the internet. What I got was just the bare bones of what I really needed. I managed to get away with it for a short while but with employment law moving so quickly it was soon out of date and I didn't know what to change to keep it in line with the law. I needed peace of mind so I instructed Michael to prepare a tailored agreement for my business. I now have that peace of mind because I am totally confident I have everything I need. What's more I know that the agreement won't go out of date: that means I don't have to worry about the employee side of my business and I can concentrate on what I do best
Andrew Ferguson, Gravitate Web Design
You need Michael Smyth fighting in your corner

I recently supported someone who was subjected to an unjustified and poorly-handled disciplinary action by an employer.

For the person concerned, it was a stressful situation racked with uncertainty. There was a need for someone who could provide sound advice and strong advocacy. I had no hesitation in recommending Michael Smyth.
Although I had known Michael for several years, I had not required his employment or sports law expertise. But in this case I saw how his advice and knowledge of the law provided reassurance in the initial stages, and led to a successful outcome at subsequent mediation.

I can confirm Michael is indeed an "approachable lawyer". And he gets results. Whether you are an employee or an employer - you need Michael Smyth fighting in your corner.
John Shattock, APR, FPRINZ
Uppermost in his mind was the outcome for me

When you think of lawyers you think of clock watching professionals whose only concern is to charge for every single second you talk to them. However, Michael is not like that. He will sit down and have a conversation with you pretty much when you want to talk about it. It soon became clear to me that money wasn't his only concern but that uppermost in his mind was the outcome for me. When we spoke he focused on me and the issues in hand and made me feel extremely comfortable no matter how uncomfortable or frustrating the situation. His pleasant demeanour was always evident. So yes, I would definitely recommend Michael to anyone else who has a problem with their employer.
Jennie Tiers
He kept me constantly updated with developments

I had never had to use an employment lawyer before so it was a bit of a venture into the unknown for me. I found the service I got from Michael was tremendous especially the way he kept me constantly updated with developments. What particularly impressed me was his approachability and clear assessment of the situation which I faced. I would have no hesitation recommending him to anyone else in a similar predicament.
JS
Professional, efficient and formidable

From the first conversation I had with you, I felt
enormous relief as if you had just taken my awful problem from me. You handled the entire matter on my behalf, liaising with me all the way and negotiating the best possible outcome for me. I found you to be professional, efficient, and formidable in your approach to the problem.
Engaging you was of real value, I'm so pleased I did!
Mellany Boulle, Auckland
I thought I could handle my own dispute

I thought I knew a fair bit about employment procedures so at first thought I could handle my own dispute with my employer. But, I decided to give Michael a call anyway and seek his views. It was only then that I realised how little I knew and how much value he could add to the process. I particularly appreciated the fast and prompt service. Your knowledge of employment procedures, calm demeanour and easy going nature greatly assisted me in resolving my dispute. I would have no hesitation in recommending your services to others and in fact have already done so to two others.
Richard Carr, Auckland
Get the basics right from the very beginning

Back in 1971, when I was more gung-ho, I wrote in my notebook: "We don't need lawyers." But over the years, stating our agreements in clear and unumbiguous terms has provided, again and again, to have been vital for our success. Our contract with T-Mobile, in particular, turned out to be a vital document for us. Incurring unnecessary legal fees can ruin your start-up, but the answer, I now think, is not to ignore the lawyers, but to get the basics right from the very beginning. Any start up business should sit down and take a long hard look at its legal agreements. 
Richard Branson - Business Stripped Bare, Virgin Group
Michael was extremely informative and entertaining

The presentation by Michael was extremely informative and entertaining. Michael gave very useful information and was able to clearly show us how certain approaches should be utilised in certain situations. Michael was able to relate well to all of the audience and explained everything in such a way that it made sense. I'm sure that in the future I will be using Michael's website and information, and will also be recommending Michael as a speaker.
Sarah Wright, Stace Hammond Barristers & Solicitors
I had an immediate rapport with Michael

When I needed a lawyer for my employment dispute, I decided to do due diligence amongst a number of lawyers before making a decision as to who best suited my criteria. I had an immediate rapport with Michael. We were able to establish more than just a client/lawyer partnership which proved to be a valuable asset and enabled a very positive outcome for me. Overall, I found Michael approachable, affordable and most importantly available when I needed him. He handled my case using knowledge of legal precedent and sticking to the facts. I would recommend him to any else looking to achieve a positive outcome with their employment dispute.
Brent Matches, Executive Chef
Brent Matches
I thought it would be a boring presentation

When I heard that our key note presentation was going to be made by a lawyer I thought it would be a boring presentation with lots of hifi law terms. However, I was curious so I went along only to find that the presentation was really refreshing. The style was very impressive and the contents wholesome and relevant to our course. Michael was very upfront and honest in providing insights into the basics needed for running a business, in particular the need to have contracts in place before an employee starts and the need to avoid litigation at all costs. I would definitely recommend him to anyone else looking for a keynote speaker. Thanks once again for making it a very pleasant and informative session.
Edwin Pereira, Student in Certificate of Small Business Management
The workshop certainly put me straight

When I booked on the workshop I was unsure how many types of toxic employees there really were. The workshop certainly put me straight on that and I particularly liked the role play session which gave me the tools and confidence to deal with bullying and other concerns. I found the dignity at work policy to be very useful and understanding the various personality types was very enlightening. I would recommend this workshop to my other managers at work.

Donna Ellis, Mighty River Power
Taught me how to navigate through the potential minefield

The matter of toxic employees was a new subject to me before I came to the workshop but I am glad I went. The workshop gave me a framework for dealing with bullying in the workplace, taught me how to navigate through the potential minefield and gave me tools to understand the various personality types and behaviour. I would recommend it to others.
Bob Wooller, Matua Lifecare
I now feel empowered to deal with toxic behaviour

I confess I didn't have much understanding of what would be included into the workshop when I booked but I hoped that it would be useful in my daily work life. Well, the workshop exceeded my expectations. I now feel empowered to deal with toxic behaviour. The role plays at the end were so valuable and were a perfect rehearsal for dealing with a bully. I feel confident that I could identify the behaviours of bullying and toxic employees. I would recommend the workshop to others.
Sue Valentine, Endoscopy Auckland
It gave me a good insight into HR issues

I came to the workshop having only been involved with recruitment. It gave me a good insight into HR issues. I particularly enjoyed the role plays, the examples used by the presenters and the discussions. I would definitely recommend it to others; so that people are more aware of the levels of bullying and that there are many approaches to addressing this behaviour in the workplace.

 

Amna Ketan, Farmers Trading Company Ltd
I don't normally like role play exercises

I don't normally like role play exercises and always feel for my students when I ask them to do them, but I found those in this workshop great for building my confidence with toxic employees and bullies. I enjoyed the variety of the presenters and had a great day, I would definitely encourage others to attend this workshop, you will not regret it.
Kerry Attwood, Academy NZ
I walked away with a much better understanding of the legal issues involved

As someone who specialises in the area of toxic employees and bullying, I found Michael's section on the legalities around the subject the most informative and easy to understand. I walked away with a much better understanding of the legal issues involved and the processes to follow. I would recommend anyone to get a better understanding of these issues in order to tackle this problem head on.
Linda Guirey, Linda Guirey
Here was someone who actually listened

When you think of lawyers you think of a stuffy lot who are more concerned about doing the work rather than the needs of the client. But after dealing with Michael my opinion was blown out of the water. Here was someone who actually listened, took an interest and gave sound advice. The name ‘approachable' says it all. Above all I liked the friendliness approachability, his excellent eye for detail and the fact that he is a great wordsmith. I could not have asked for a better person to deal with - everything ran so smoothly. Thanks for your time and effort.
Ken Vesey
He really is an approachable lawyer

I would be lost without Michael's support, my clients often have quite complex employment relations issues from poor performance to serious misconduct and everything in between. I love knowing that I can just check things out with Michael to ensure that we are giving the best possible advice to our clients. I know we say it in jest, but he really is 'an approachable lawyer
Sharn Rayner, Pod Consulting
So easy for a layman to understand

I want to compliment you on your book,"Employed but not Engaged" which I have come across recently and have read only first few pages but really impressed with your style of writing and the simplicity of the book, so easy for a layman to understand. I personally cherish the book beacuse of its analogy because it relates so well to our everyday life. Many thanks for writing such a wonderful book and being so approchable as well.

Harpreet Kaur
Response to our business employment need was superb

We felt as a customer that our needs were top priority. Michael understood the potential issues and down stream impacts on our business and advised accordingly. Response to our business employment need was superb, both email and telephone communications. We were well represented in mediation and felt confident in Micheal proposition. Michaels recommendations were in the best interest of the Employer and were well supported and explained to ITCS Director
Michele Jones, ITC Services
Expertise and patience during such a trying time in our economy

Michael helped us sort through the legalities that we were not too familiar with when it came to employment law. He made sure we understood exactly what he was saying in a way we could understand it.  Thank you Michael for your expertise and patience during such a trying time in our economy.
Dave, Mr Fencer
A good professional team behind me

Thank you so much and I really appreciate all your help in the past and if someone thinks I have had some success in my NZ business life then there are few people ( a good professional team) behind me and you are one of them. Thank you again, you never know where life heads...
Dilip Mylvaganam, Orbitel Communications
Even as times have gotten tough I haven't wanted to stop my membership

Thanks for your help - just wanted to say it has been so worth it to stay being a member with you, even as times have gotten tough I haven't wanted to stop my membership as it is so helpful. I love the way I can ask you questions in the moment and get a fast response that usually solves everything - with the peace of mind that I have covered my bases legally. And even on legal issues that are not your area. I think it has saved us from many a legal error as if we had to seek separate legal advice on every occasion we wouldn't bother because of the expected cost, we would just wing it and no doubt get into a world of trouble!

Karen Finlayson, Bodyneed
The outcome was excellent

I really did want to thank you for your excellent service as at the time I was in a bit of a mess, however the outcome was excellent and thanks for your advice. I have a great job and importantly my boss is excellent and I have a great working relationship with her - which makes a big difference