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Employment Analysis: 2009 Summary & 2010 Watch List
About Australasian Legal Business magazine 2
Chapter 1: Employers of Choice Survey for 2009 3
Chapter 2: Employers of Choice - Top Firms of Australia 5
Chapter 3: ALB 30 - Australasia’s Largest Firms 10
Chapter 4: ALB Fast 10 - Fastest Growing Firms 18
Chapter 5: Career Tips 25
• Courses for Career Advancement
• Brains VS beauty in the job market
• Law: a springboard to corporate glory
• 7 ways to screw up your legal career
Chatper 6: Salary survey reveals top opportunities 51
Chapter 7: Watch list – Firms to Watch in 2010 53
A series of valuable extracts from some of the top content of 2009 and 2010 as featured in
ALB magazine and Legal Jobs Centre.
Prepared by Chris Redshaw, Online Analyst
t: +61 2 8437 4723
About Australasian Legal Business (ALB) magazine:
ALB is the only independent magazine dedicated to the latest legal news, events and
developments in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Asia and the international business
With a circulation throughout Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, along with parts of
Japan, Taiwan and Korea, ALB is the region's most effective way to reach all the major
lawyers, corporate counsel and business leaders. With coverage on all the important and
emerging areas of practice and business, ALB provides the most updated legal and business
news from in and around the region.
Each issue contains in-depth features examining changes in legislation, important areas of
practice, and overseas jurisdictions along with revealing profiles of major industry leaders.
In conjunction with its print publications, ALB also produces ALB legal news, ALB legal deals
and legal jobs featuring the most up to date legal positions throughout the Asia-Pacific.
One of Asia-Pacific's leading media companies, Key Media provides specialist publications,
websites, events and business conferences focused on the needs of professionals, senior
executives and business leaders. Offices in Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, and
Toronto give the company exceptional reach and exposure to industry developments across
Key Media is a leading organiser of conferences, gala dinners, award ceremonies and events.
Combined these include a packed calendar of professional education (to include conferences
and seminars), trade shows, industry summits and award ceremonies. Our events are
designed to cater to the needs of professionals, senior executives and business leaders.
Chapter 1: Employers of Choice Survey ‐ 2009
With the talent market becoming more competitive, ALB's extensive Employer of Choice
Survey 2009 investigates which firms warrant the title, and why.
As the financial crisis sweeps over law firms across the UK, the US and ‐ to a lesser extent ‐
Australasia, employers are faced with the task of balancing firm finance with staff needs.
Consequently, organisational structures become leaner, redundancies are announced and
performance management is prioritised. The result is that the balance of power between
lawyers and recruiters tilts in favour of the latter, who are directing their focus towards the
more experienced end of the market. Additionally, as international market conditions
prompt droves of skilled lawyers based overseas to return home, undoubtedly firms will still
be on the lookout to attract the cream of the crop ‐ and retain it.
At the same time, high‐achieving lawyers will be seeking to integrate their skills, values and
career aspirations in a culture that meets their equally high expectations. Against this
backdrop, the timing could not be better for ALB to unveil the region’s top firms ‐ as
revealed by the lawyers they employ.
Beggars and choosers
Redundancies, salary freezes, equity contributions. With these buzz words circulating in the
legal industry lately it’s no wonder that lawyers and firms alike are anxious about the
employment landscape. The discrepancy in firm management may have been evident for
some lawyers who read the recent announcements with curiosity as some associates were
elevated to partnership, while a significant number of others were made redundant. But
that is not to say it has been an easy ride for employers either. The challenge for them all
over the last few months has been how to consider firm finances without damaging staff
morale. Tightening the budget has become a very dicey walk on the tightrope between
keeping staff reassured and corporate structure stable.
With this in mind, ALB’s employer of choice survey has never been more topical. The firms
that led the pack this year as the region’s top employers have come to the forefront for
several reasons ‐ not only for recognition in a difficult employment market. From the ones
rated highly for their quality of work to those scoring well for professional development
initiatives, this year’s Employers of Choice have got it right when it comes to attracting
The online survey was conducted during December 2008‐February 2009, and sent out to
more than 20,000 lawyers in the Asia‐Pacific. In Australia and New Zealand, respondents'
level of experience and position titles varied, with the majority calling themselves simply
''lawyers''. This was followed closely by those identifying themselves as senior associates.
Lawyers’ length of service was either long or short. More than half the respondents said they
have spent one to two years with their current firm, while 24% said it was more than six.
Insufficient data received from in‐house teams meant conclusions drawn were not
sufficiently meaningful to include them in the EOC ranks.
Bills, bills, bills
Like last year, lawyers remained content with what they believe to be reasonable billing
hours. Most Australian and New Zealand‐based lawyers recorded a target of seven hours.
"Billable‐hour targets are too low for employed solicitors, but could be reduced for salaried
partners (like me) with extensive marketing and practice‐building responsibilities,"
suggested an Australia‐based partner. Nevertheless, over 85% of Australian respondents
thought that billable‐hour targets were reasonable.
To move or not to move: what motivates lawyers
Management take note: lawyers stated that a firm’s reputation and value rest on whether it
fosters its culture and better work/life balance, which far outweighed other factors such as
partnership prospects or firm size. Teamwork, assertive colleagues and a positive work
environment featured heavily on lawyers'' agendas.
One respondent, particularly, summed it up: "Fit is all‐important. Meshing into the culture of
a firm can make your life a misery or a delight, given the number of hours you spend at
work." For some lawyers there were other issues to motivate their move: "The support and
independence available to me in managing my work and assignments, and developing client
relationships is also very important," said one respondent. Interestingly, 77% chose quality
of work over reputation ‐ which followed closely. Surprisingly, while compensation ranked
high as a potential reason to move, it was not quite as high as work/life balance. One
Australian lawyer summed it up this way: "The type of work is certainly more important than
anything else ‐ although this is assuming a competitive salary."
However, balancing work and life was high on the list for lawyers based in Australia and New
Zealand. An Australian lawyer provided their reasoning: "Firm culture can be perceived by
the type of people they take in. So if you know a few people working at the firm already, and
they seem to be your type, that’s a great sign."
Making the regional jump
Despite voicing their concerns about firm life and the factors motivating their move, lawyers
this year will be sitting firmly in their current positions to ride out the financial crisis. In
uncertain employment markets, it was not surprising that a firm ''no'' (81% of lawyers) was
given among Australian and New Zealand lawyers when they were asked if they would
consider moving firms in the current market. ''Undecided'' made up 11%, while a bold 7%
said they were likely to move, although some within these ranks noted they would only do
so for an opportunity that was absolutely secure. The overall sentiment was captured in one
particular response: "While I would be interested in moving, with the current economic
downturn, there do not appear to be too many law firms recruiting and, as a result, a move
may not be possible." However, where opportunities are available, most Australian and New
Zealand based lawyers would choose the UK and Asia as their preferred jurisdiction,
followed closely by the United States, while Europe and the Middle East were not as popular
Chapter 2: Employers of Choice ‐ Top Firms of Australia
Not surprisingly, two of last year’s winners appeared again in this year’s edition ‐ one of
them, Mallesons Stephen Jaques. Keeping an ear to the ground forms part of the firm’s
initiatives to maintain its high ranking as one of Australia’s leading employers of choice. "Our
people tell us they want to work closely with clients, be involved in planning matters and
have opportunities to learn and stretch on the job," said managing partners Stuart Fuller and
Tony O''Malley in a joint statement. "As a result, our leadership development programs over
the last few years have placed a strong emphasis on delegation and coaching skills, and
involving junior lawyers from the outset in understanding a client’s business, priorities and
challenges, not just the legal issues."
Consolidating this over the next few years has become a priority for the firm, which is
launching an International Graduate Program in 2010, in response to demand for more
opportunities for graduates. "It certainly doesn't hurt to have a strong reputation in the
market when it comes to recruiting summer clerks, lateral lawyers and professional staff.
While the GFC may have slowed the war for talent, it is critical that we continue to focus on
our reputation as an employer over the longer term, so we are well positioned for the
inevitable pick‐up in the economy when it comes,” they added.
The other repeat performer from last year’s list is Corrs Chambers Westgarth and one of the
areas in which it stood out among employees was in terms of the quality of work on offer,
which ‐ according to the survey results ‐ is the most important factor when choosing a firm.
"Our people have the opportunity to be involved in some of the most interesting, high‐
profile work in the Australian market today, working with some of the best lawyers in the
business. Corrs has worked hard to continue to strengthen its portfolio of large clients and
share of landmark deals," says executive director of human resources Cindy Carpenter, and
adds that the firm has taken positive steps to ensure the achievement was adequately
rewarded. "In 2007, Corrs launched a new compensation system called Rewarding Excellent
Performance. This system has three objectives: to ensure our remuneration remains very
competitive with top‐tier firm benchmarks, to differentiate remuneration on the basis of
individual performance and to make the principles of performance review transparent. The
firm delivers on each of these objectives and is assisted in this regard by rigorous salary
benchmarking," she states.
Thynne & McCartney, which was also rated one of Australia’s employers of choice, has
adopted a similar approach. "We encourage our staff to take an active role in deciding what
remuneration they deserve," says the firm’s human resources manager, Lyn O''Neil. "Our
staff are not paid in bands or years of experience but rewarded based on merit and
performance." Corrs has also reaped the rewards of a collaborative approach. "We seek
regular feedback and involvement from our people as to what is working well and what
isn''t, and take direct action where required. We are committed to providing an inspiring
workplace which truly engages our people," says Carpenter.
Blake Dawson is another employer of choice and, according to deputy managing partner
Helen McKenzie, its employees come first. "The firm’s strategy for many years has been
centred on its people," she says, "and this explicit recognition that the key to delivering
excellent client service lies in recruiting and developing outstanding lawyers means that, as
an organisation, we strive to create an environment that enables all members of the firm to
achieve their potential."
The other firm that made the list this year is multiple‐award‐winning law firm, Swaab
Attorneys. According to CEO Bronwyn Potts, the firm is not only in search of great lawyers,
but also great people. "The first hurdle for candidates is that they have to be really nice
people," she says. "There is a genuine commitment by the partners to ensure that the
younger lawyers are interested and engaged ‐ they are the future of the firm," she explains.
Partner Fredrick Swaab is in agreement, and adds that being a small firm put even greater
emphasis on the need to create an employee‐friendly culture. "We are not a large firm so
our employees are very precious and as we can’t afford a lot of turnover, we need to keep
them engaged," he states.
Swaab acknowledges that attracting the cream of the crop has not always been easy. "About
six years ago, when we re‐branded the firm, we saw that it was going to be hard to attract
those ''young upwardly mobile'' new partners. Until you get a profile in the industry, it’s
difficult to get recruiters to refer good people to you, because they won''t invest their CV in
a smaller firm if they feel that it’s going to denigrate them in the eyes of their peers. So,
once we started winning awards, it was whole different ball game ‐ because they knew they
were joining a law firm that is the best in its category," he declares.
In New Zealand, Russell McVeagh, Chapman Tripp and Buddle Findlay were rated as the best
firms to work for. Buddle Findlay’s Chair, Peter Chemis, says the firm has always considered
quality of work as a top priority. "We are delighted to be acknowledged as one of New
Zealand’s great places to work. Buddle Findlay has always placed a real emphasis on quality
work and quality people, and recognises that to retain staff and stimulate them, we must
provide a broad range of challenging work and dedicated support at all levels," he states.
The firm has also invested heavily in developing tomorrow’s leaders. "We expect our lawyers
to become leaders in their field and to play a leadership role in the firm, whatever their age
or level of experience ‐ and this plays its part in making Buddle Findlay a great place to
work," he adds.
This article first appeared in ALB's March issue 2009 – ALB Employers of Choice 2010 will be
announced in March 2010.
Russell McVeagh CEO Gary McDiarmid says the firm branding is to attract top recruits.
Russell McVeagh has a very strong brand ‐ both in general terms as well as an employment
brand. "We survey extensively and we have found that the brand does serve to attract top
people to the firm. We are approached on a regular basis by talented lawyers, based both
offshore and in New Zealand. We are always in the market for top people," McDiarmid says.
EMPLOYERS OF CHOICE -
• Blake Dawson
• Corrs Chambers Westgarth
• Gilbert + Tobin
• Mallesons Stephen Jacques
• McCullough Robertson
• Swaab Attorneys
• Thynne & McCartney
EMPLOYERS OF CHOICE -
• Bell Gully
• Buddle Findlay
• Chapman Tripp
• Russell McVeagh
ALB’s Employers of Choice 2009 - top firms in the Gulf/Asian jurisdictions
• Denton Wilde Sapte
• Fichte & Co
• Simmons & Simmons
• Norton Rose
• Al Tamimi & Company
CHINA - DOMESTIC FIRMS
• King & Wood
• Jun He Law Offices
• Wang Jing & Co
• Llinks Law Offices
• Deheng Law Firm
CHINA - INTERNATIONAL FIRMS
• Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
• Jones Day
• Paul Hastings
• Allen & Overy
• White & Case
JAPAN - INTERNATIONAL FIRMS
• Davis Polk & Wardwell
• Bingham McCutchen
• Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy
• Fredrick Swaab, Swaab Attorneys
• LCS & Partners
• Tsai & Tsai
• Formosa Transnational
• Zul Rafique & Partners
• Zaid Ibrahim & Co
• Shearn Delamore & Co
• Clifford Chance
• Slaughter & May
• Melli Darsa
• Hadiputranto Hadinoto & Partners
• Ali Budiardjo, Nugroho, Reksodiputro
• Amarchand & Mangaldas
• AZB & Partners
• Luthra & Luthra
• J Sagar & Associates
• Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
• Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
• Kim & Chang
Lee & Ko
• Shin & Kim
Chapter 3: ALB 30 ‐ Australasia’s Largest Firms
Australasia’s largest firms had a good start to the 2007–08 financial year, but halfway
through the year clouds started to gather when it became evident that the effects of the
subprime mortgage crisis in the US would spread across the globe. Managing partners,
however, have remained stoically optimistic and have the figures to back it up
“Capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism for the
rich,” wrote James Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, in an opinion article in
The New York Times at the end of 2007. He made the comment in an article that criticised
the US Federal Reserve Bank’s policy of lowering interest rates to avoid deflation at all costs,
which he felt contributed to the subprime crisis having such a severe impact on the US
Grant argued that downturns in economic cycles are necessary to return to healthy
borrowing and lending patterns, and thus to a healthy economy. Inevitable as it might be, it
does mean that many economies across the globe are currently faced with the realities of
reduced liquidity in the markets.
From the second half of the financial year 2007–08, Australasian law firms started to feel the
effects of the global liquidity shortage in their banking and finance practices, and, to a lesser
degree, in their M&A practices, where fewer deals have been taken to the table. “There
certainly are a lot of corporate transactions that are waiting for the go‐ahead once there is
more stability in the market,” says David Fagan, chief executive partner of Clayton Utz. His
colleague in New Zealand, CEO Gary McDiarmid of Russell McVeagh, agrees. “M&A work is
very quiet; anyone that says differently is delusional.”
But as the economy slows down, the number of businesses that get into problems increases,
which leads to more work for a firm’s insolvency and restructuring practice. Therefore, for
many firms the change in the economic climate has meant a shift in the type of work. “If you
have styled your firm around one type of work, you lose out in the shift that has taken
place,” says Robert Milliner, chief executive partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques. “For law
firms on the sophisticated end of the market, a recession means more work because a lot of
things need to be sorted out.”
Australasia’s 30 largest firms
Rank Firm Total Country Managing Total Total No of
lawyers/ of origin partner/CEO lawyers partners offices
1 Minter Ellison 1031 Australia Guy 764 267 10
2 Mallesons 949 Australia Robert 770 179 5
Stephen Jaques Milliner
3 Clayton Utz 867 Australia David Fagan 643 224 6
4 Freehills* 832 Australia Gavin Bell 619 213 4
5 Allens Arthur 797 Australia Michael 627 170 4
6 DLA Phillips Fox 779 Australia Tony 619 160 8
7 Blake Dawson* 768 Australia John Atkin 590 178 5
8 Corrs Chambers 524 Australia John Denton 408 116 5
9 Deacons 472 Hong Don Boyd 262 210 5
10 Australian 391 Australia Rayne de 391 n/a 8
11 Gadens 368 Australia Ian Clarke 237 112 6
12 Baker & 315 US Mark 209 84 2
13 Sparke Helmore 298 Australia John Davis 240 58 8
14 Middletons 289 Australia Nick Nichola 230 59 2
15 Russell 271 New Gary 227 44 2
McVeagh Zealand McDiarmid
16 HWL Ebsworth 263 Australia Juan 165 98 7
17 Simpson 245 New Rob Fisher 197 48 2
18 Hunt & Hunt 229 Australia Maureen 156 73 10
19 Bell Gully 223 New Roger 180 43 2
20 Chapman Tripp 211 New Andrew 160 51 3
Zealand Poole, Mark
21 DibbsBarker 211 Australia Alan 141 70 5
22 Maddocks 196 Australia David 146 50 2
23 Henry Davis 178 Australia Sharon Cook 130 48 1
24 McCullough 170 Australia Brett 135 35 1
25 Gilbert + Tobin 160 Australia Danny 108 52 1
26 Holding Redlich 156 Australia Chris Lovell 112 44 3
27 Kensington 153 New Chris 111 39 2
Swan Zealand Heilbronn
28 Buddle Findlay 144 New Peter 107 37 3
29 Moray & Agnew 144 Australia Michael Pitt 91 53 5
30 Piper Alderman 143 Australia Gordon 92 51 4
* Freehills, Blake Dawson: FTEs submitted
Note: This table does not purport to be exhaustive. Figures are provided by the firms
themselves and are accurate to June 2008. Where firms are unable to supply figures,
websites have been used
Firms and figures
Mallesons is one of the Big Six firms that have done well, reporting revenue growth of
10.7%. The firm is closely followed by Clayton Utz, which reported an increase of 9% in
revenues, but top gong goes to Blake Dawson which realised an increase of 11.9%.
Although Minter Ellison is the largest law firm by total lawyer and partner numbers, it came
in as the fourth largest firm by revenues. Last year it was in third place but had to step down
in favour of Clayton Utz, whose consistently solid performance has placed it in the top three
Other remarkable performers were Gilbert + Tobin, which revealed a revenue increase of
14.9%, and Baker & McKenzie, which posted top line revenue growth of 13.2%. Meanwhile,
in the mid‐sized segment of the market, Holding Redlich (+20.4%) and Maddocks (+17.1%)
On the other side of the spectrum we find the Australian Government Solicitor, which saw
income increasing by just 1.8%, while Thomson Playford achieved only 1.1% growth. The
worst performer in the ALB revenues table, however, is TressCox, which reported a meagre
0.5% increase in revenues.
New Zealand’s secrets
Many firms in New Zealand have a financial year that corresponds with the calendar year
and, therefore, they are halfway through their financial year. In 2007, Bell Gully broke
through the NZ$100m mark, says the firm’s CEO, Stephen Macliver. “We have comfortably
exceeded 100 million dollars for the first year ever. It was a significant double‐digit uplift on
Macliver did not want to specify by how much the firm has broken the mark, but in the New
Zealand tradition his remarks are already generous. While in many countries law firms are
moving towards more transparency, with the UK leading the way by publishing profits per
partner, most firms in New Zealand don’t reveal any financial details and, instead, claim
every year to have realised another record year of growth. The reason for this shyness
seems to have been lost in the catacombs of tradition. “There hasn’t been a history of, or
demand for, disclosure of this specific financial information,” offers Macliver.
For future revenue growth, many law firms rely on expanding the share of work that comes
in from outside national boundaries. Mallesons’ Robert Milliner expects the highest growth
to come from the Asia region. “Growth in Australia will be moderate, as opposed to high
growth in Asia,” he says. But despite the opportunities there, he is not looking for hasty
expansion. “It’s not a question of having dots on a map; we want to build solid offices and do
things that we do really well. Our priority is to build up the Beijing and Shanghai offices to
the same level as our Hong Kong office.”
Australian law firms have taken different views on the best way to reel in international
advisory work. On one hand there are firms such as Mallesons and Minters that which have
set up extensive networks of offices in the Asia‐Pacific region. On the other hand there are
firms that favour law firm alliances, such as Clayton Utz which is the Lex Mundi member for
Australia. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter which approach is taken as the share of
revenue coming from cross‐border work is roughly the same. All of the firms mentioned
above estimate that the percentage of revenue coming from offshore activities amounts to
“Each firm has their own strategy that they are pursuing and different people have different
views on what works best,” says David Fagan. “For us, the approach we’ve taken is quite
successful. We’ve committed a lot to our regional offices. For example, our Perth office will
grow this year by about 18% to A$45m in revenues. In the last three years, our Brisbane
office has doubled in size and this year we expect the office to contribute about A$80m.
There are not many firms in our area that have significant offices in Perth and Brisbane.”
Clayton Utz might not have offices in Asia, but it does have partners on the ground there,
sometimes for extended periods of time. “We have had a number of lawyers and partners
based in Taipei for the last five years, working on the Taiwan high‐speed rail project. We
have a large power project in Vietnam and we’ve been running litigation in Kazakhstan; it
ranges all across the globe.” Fagan says the decision not to set up offices in these
jurisdictions is largely explained by cost control. “You can have an offshore office that
wouldn’t even contribute A$50m and you pay a lot of costs to service that office.”
For many law firms 2007–08 has been another good year in terms of revenue growth and
this seems to justify the unabated optimism of law firm managing partners. But there is a
catch to continued good conditions, warns James Grant in his before‐mentioned opinion
piece. “People get carried away, prices go too high and economic resources go where they
shouldn’t.” Let’s hope that the legal industry is the proverbial exception to the rule.
David Fagan – Clayton Utz
Clayton Utz is set to post revenue growth of 9% this financial year, an increase to A$470m
and another strong result after last year’s 11% increase. “It’s a year of two halves,” says
David Fagan, chief executive partner of Clayton Utz. “Up to December, it was a very buoyant
corporate and banking market, while beyond December it was a very buoyant litigation
It’s clear that the economic climate has changed since December, but Fagan says it’s not all
down to the liquidity crisis stemming from the subprime mortgage industry collapse in the
US. “The subprime crisis, the packing up mortgages with very problematic credit quality,
we’ve not had that here. In the US one in every five houses has had a foreclosure notice, in
Australia that’s 0.2%. We’ve not had that asset problem and, correspondingly, I don’t think
we’re going to have the litigation they had over subprime issues.”
Fagan does acknowledge that some of the fallout of the subprime crisis has trickled into the
Australian market and he says Clayton Utz is advising Lehman Brothers on products that the
financial services company sold into the Australian market. But the large corporate collapses
that Australia has seen in recent months are not tied to the US‐originated crisis, he argues.
“The work that is related to Allco, Centro and MFS, that is more about their business models
than the credit crunch.”
The slowdown in the Australian market is a result of the culmination of factors, including a
rising oil price, record low consumer confidence and fewer corporate sales, and there is no
telling when the climate will improve. The firm is, therefore, budgeting for more subdued
growth next year, says Fagan. “There is uncertainty in what the next 12 months will bring; a
degree of caution is probably sensible.”
John Denton – Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s revenues have increased by 3.4% to A$240m in the financial
year 2007/08. This is not quite as high an increase as in the previous years. Last year the firm
reported a growth of 11.5%, while over the last three years the firm’s total revenues grew by
25%. For next financial year, the firm is looking at single digit growth – around 5 – 6%.
Chief executive officer John Denton of Corrs says the slowdown in revenue growth is caused
by the firm’s efforts to develop its industry groups. “Partly, it is us doing things,” he says.
“We are very committed to our 2010 strategy and that does take up a lot of capacity. We’re
not skinnying the firm up here, we are investing very heavily in L&D [learning &
development] in particular, and in information systems.”
“We could suck in more revenue if we wanted to, and I do notice that used to be a focus of
some people in the market place, but what’s the point if you’re not generating additional
return from that? All you’re doing is adding revenue. We’re not competing on scale; we’re
large enough to do the big deals.”
Denton discards the idea that it’s the influence of the credit crunch. “What has been
surprising for us is how strong corporate advisory has actually been this year. We’ve closed
some pretty amazing deals; we’ve done five of the top 10 deals that have been closed. So
the areas that we are seen by some of our competitors as being softer, in fact, haven’t been
soft for us.”
Guy Templeton – Minter Ellison
Minter Ellison is the largest law firm in Australia by total lawyer numbers, but this financial
year the firm lost its place in the top three largest law firms by revenue to Clayton Utz.
Minters came in at fourth place, reporting A$460m in revenues, while its competitor posted
A$470 in revenues.
Despite having to digest a drop on the size‐by‐revenue ladder, Minters still managed to grow
revenues by 5.3%. CEO Guy Templeton says that the insolvency and restructuring practice
has been the main driver of growth. “We’ve maintained a full‐sized insolvency and
restructuring team throughout the boom times. That is now paying off,” he says. “Our
restructuring and workout team is firing in all cylinders; it’s one of our strongest areas.”
The firm is advising ANZ on the legal issues surrounding the collapse of stockbroker Opes
Prime and the bank’s exposure to Centro. It also continues to act for PwC as the liquidator of
seven of the mezzanine finance companies within the Westpoint Group.
Templeton says that inbound work from Asia has been unaffected by the global credit
crunch and he expects this to be one of the main drivers for the next financial year,
particularly for the firm’s energy and resources practice.
He also predicts a strong year for the firm’s infrastructure practice, driven by major projects
undertaken by state governments. For example, Minters advises the Port of Melbourne
Corporation on the channel deepening project. “[These projects are] starting to flow through
now. The pipeline for the whole of Australia has been full for some time and will remain so
for some time to come.”
Mark Leibler – Arnold Bloch Leibler
One of the most remarkable deals of last year was undoubtedly the public listing of plaintiff
firm Slater & Gordon. Not only did the IPO provide some challenging legal and regulatory
issues, but it also sparked a debated on the ethical merit of the adventure. Some critics said
the listing of a law firm would dilute the responsibility lawyers feel towards the court and
Arnold Bloch Leibler acted for the adventures law firm on the IPO and senior partner Mark
Leibler says he looks back on the transaction as one of the firm’s highlights of last year.
‘slater & Gordon probably has to stand out simply because of its uniqueness,” says Leibler
“This was the first time that a law firm – forgetting about Australia, but internationally – has
gone public. It raised a whole lot of interesting and fascinating issues, which had to be
considered, for the first time […], but we overcame them all and as you can see Slater &
Gordon are flourishing.”
But the successful listing hasn’t tempted the firm to go public themselves. “We have a
different model,” he says. “We don’t rule out anything, but at this moment I don’t see us
seriously heading in that direction.”
Arnold Bloch Leibler realised a healthy revenue growth of 7.6% in the financial year 2007/08.
Leibler expects to further grow the Sydney office of the firm. “There is a huge potential for
growth there,” he says. “We think there is going to be a lot more commercial litigation;
some things have gone wrong in the credit crisis.”
The expansion will depend largely on the ability to find the right people. “Because of the
economic downturn there will be a bit of a shakeout, but to get the right quality people is
Robert Milliner – Mallesons Stephen Jaques
Like the year before, Mallesons Stephen Jaques dominates the revenue table in the financial
year 2007/08. And what’s more, the firm has broken through the half a billion dollar barrier,
reporting a total revenue growth of 10.7% to A$545m.
It took the firm 175 years to get to this size, and so ALB magazine asked the firm’s CEO,
Robert Milliner, how long it will take before it reaches a revenue figure of a billion dollars?
“That’s a quantum jump,” says Milliner. “For the Australian firms, a billion dollars would not
be a sensible aspiration. It’s a very competitive market here; there are a lot of good firms. I
doubt that any Australian firm would think that doubling its size in Australia would make
But Milliner does aim high when talking about expansion in Asia. The firm generates roughly
10% of its revenues in the Asian region, particularly in China. Milliner says that although he
expects to grow moderately in Australia, the real growth story is in Asia. He wants to build
up the Beijing and Shanghai offices to the same size of the Hong Kong office, which has over
Milliner illustrates the importance of China for the Australian economy by a quote of Ian
MacFarlane, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank, who said that Australia’s economy is
simply a factor of the global economy. “That was true of the early 2000s,” says Milliner.
“Interestingly, the resources dependence of China has made it more the case that Australia’s
economy is a factor of China’s economy.”
Although some have doubted the profitability of the Asian adventure, Milliner waves away
this criticism. “This used to be the classic rhetoric of the early 2000s: you don’t want to
invest offshore because you can’t make any profit out of those offices. Well, I can tell you
that we can make very significant profits out of our Asian offices.”
Chapter 4: ALB Fast 10 ‐ Fastest Growing Firms
This year’s Fast 10 reflects an industry in transition – mergers, listed firms and the GFC have
all made their impact on the composition of the 2009 list. This also promises to be one of the
most controversial Fast 10 features ever published. What constitutes “growth”? What
constitutes a “law firm”? As will become clear, industry change is posing new questions and
there is no consensus yet on the correct answers.
Organic growth or merger growth?
This year’s Fast 10 reflects an increasing number of firms which have achieved their growth
through mergers. This is not a completely new phenomenon – last year’s winner, Thynne &
Macartney, achieved some of its growth courtesy of a merger with fellow Queensland firm
Biggs & Biggs.
However, as the mid‐tier consolidates, mergers are having an increased impact on the Fast
10. This presents a dilemma. On the one hand, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of
firms which have achieved growth as a result of shrewd leadership and superior client
service. Organic growth is undoubtedly a key benchmark of a high‐performing firm.
The Fast 10 list is based on a survey sent to over 100 firms in Australia and New Zealand.
Only firms which completed the survey were considered for inclusion in the Fast 10.
The primary criterion for inclusion was percentage revenue growth for the 2009 financial
year and to a lesser degree growth in fee earners. Figures were supplied by the firms
themselves and only firms with at least ten lawyers were eligible for consideration. All
growth figures and percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
On the other hand, the purpose of the Fast 10 is to simply provide a guide to the fastest‐
growing firms and to leave the market to draw its own conclusions as to the merits of the
particular growth strategies employed. Given the pattern of mid‐tier consolidation over the
past two years, it is also arguable that excluding merged firms would provide an incomplete
Another complication is demonstrated by Thomson Playford Cutlers, who lost their
insurance arm in 2008 with the secession of breakaway firm Gilchrist Connell, yet gained
Cutler Hughes Harris in Sydney and Dibbs Abbott Stillman in Melbourne. So how would one
calculate organic growth in such a scenario?
This year the format of the Fast 10 remains unchanged, with law firms being assessed on
overall revenue growth. However, we make particular acknowledgment of the firms which
have grown organically – and in particular, we congratulate Wotton + Kearney on its
achievement of 37%organic growth.
Henry Davis York, Hall & Wilcox and Mills Oakley are other examples of firms that have
eschewed mergers and still made the Fast 10.
Listed and aggregate firms
The issue of whether acquisitions should be counted in revenue growth was accentuated by
a strong showing from listed firms Slater & Gordon and Integrated Legal Holdings, both of
which have employed an aggressive acquisition strategy. However, Slater & Gordon’s
Andrew Grech points out that half of the firm’s revenue growth can be attributed to organic
“Most of our work is done on a fixed‐fee basis – our rates have remained consistent and the
(organic) growth has come from increased activity and market share,” Grech says. The Slater
& Gordon model might not appeal to everyone, but he is proud of the profile the firm has
built – not just in the legal profession but in the wider community. “Love us or hate us,
everyone knows who we are,” he says.
The arrival of Integrated Legal Holdings in the Fast 10 complicates the picture further. Under
the ILH model, firms acquired by ILH retain their existing branding. Partners are encouraged
to continue with the day‐to‐day responsibility and accountability for business strategy and
management, within the broad direction set by ILH.
“Our strategy is all about identifying very good medium‐sized law firms to join the group
through acquisition, and then supporting these member firms as part of a national network,”
says the managing director Graeme Fowler, “particularly towards achieving above market
growth and improved business performance.”
With revenue growth of 59%, there’s no doubt about the ‘fast’ side of the equation – but is
ILH actually a law firm? The lack of unified brand would seem to suggest otherwise, but
Fowler has no doubt. “Of course we’re a firm,” he says emphatically. “We’re an organisation
carrying on a legal services business – but with a different structure.” Fowler’s view is
supported by the existence of an integrated growth strategy for firms within the group, as
well as the fact that ILH reports financially as a single entity.
Nonetheless, ALB acknowledges that the decision to include the group will be controversial –
and disappointing to traditional firms such as Herbert Geer, which can justifiably take pride
in the cohesive growth culture which they have built under a single brand.
The growth figures in this year’s Fast 10 revenues are not dramatically different from those
of FY2008, due partially to the artificial inflation of revenue growth caused by mergers. For
example, the fastest‐growing firm recorded 53% revenue growth in 2008 and 59% in 2009,
with both winners having had the benefit of M&A’s.
The fastest organic growth firm (Wotton + Kearney) still recorded 37% growth – which is on
par with the fastest organic growth law firm in 2008. At the bottom end of the scale, the
tenth‐placed firm (Curwoods) recorded 9% revenue growth, which is again on par with the
tenth‐placed firm in last year’s Fast 10 list (Cooper Grace Ward, 9%).
This, of course, does not imply that firm revenues have remained steady throughout the
GFC. The real story lies with the law firms which are not on this year’s Fast 10. Some firms
that made last year’s list declined to participate in 2009, frankly conceding that their growth
wouldn’t warrant a spot. Other Fast 10 stalwarts such as Moray & Agnew, Holding Redlich
and Duncan Cotterill produced creditable results, but narrowly missed the cut. Mills Oakley
and Hall & Wilcox, who are both appearing in the Fast 10 for a third consecutive year, both
recorded growth below 2008 levels.
For obvious reasons, it is easier for smaller firms to record high revenue growth. In this
context, special mention should be made of the stellar results produced by some of the
bigger players: Piper Alderman (8% growth), Clayton Utz (5% growth) and Minter Ellison (5%
growth). They didn’t make the list, but this surely must be food for thought for readers who
are students of top‐tier fortunes.
Integrated Legal Holdings is the shock winner of the 2009 Fast 10. ILH earned A$17m in
revenue last year – and an important contributor to this growth was the acquisition of the
firms Argyle Lawyers in November 2008 and mda lawyers in March 2009.
ILH plans to develop a national network of leading law firms in the capital cities and other
key centres across Australia. “We are very selective and incremental in our acquisition
strategy,” says managing director Fowler. “We are targeting 15‐20 medium sized firms to
join the group over the next 5‐10 years.” Fowler says that he will be looking to recruit firms
with an annual fee income of between A$4m‐A$8m and with strong growth prospects. The
firms will be expected to at least double fee income in three to five years.
He says there should be no shortage of potential candidates, as according to his estimates
there are at least 150 law firms in ILH’s target medium‐sized firm group, in what he
describes as a “fragmented” industry. “We are after good people who know how to grow a
successful business and want to leverage the benefits of the listed company environment to
take their business to the next stages and well beyond,” says Fowler.
These benefits include access to capital for growth, the resources and tools to attract and
retain the best lawyers and clients in target markets, and the leverage of a national network
combined with the offerings of a small‐firm mentality approach.
“We apply a performance‐based remuneration structure to incentivise growth and
improvement in the businesses, and all principals and most staff are shareholders, which
incentivises working together,” he says.
In recent years, the Fast 10 has been decided largely on revenue results, with a small
weighting added for fee‐earner growth. This is done in order to acknowledge the firms that
have continued to provide employment to the profession, or even added lawyers to their
payroll during difficult times. The weighting is kept to 20% in order not to skew the nature
of the Fast 10 as a predominantly revenue‐based survey.
The fee‐earner growth component needs to be taken into account when looking at the
survey results. For example, Thomson Playford had 36% growth in fee‐earners, which
allowed it to leapfrog other firms with higher revenue growth. This occurred only by the
smallest margin – Thomson Playford, Henry Davis York and Mills Oakley all attained the
same weighted score, with the final ranking coming down to decimal places.
10. Curwoods Lawyers
Managing partner: Scott Kennedy
Revenue growth: 9%
Partners: 11 (22% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 31 (35% growth)
This Sydney‐based firm is a newcomer to the Fast 10 but not to solid growth. Curwoods has
achieved double‐digit growth in each of the past four years, slipping just slightly to 9% in
2009. Curwoods’ highly targeted areas of specialisation include insurance, dispute resolution
and construction, with managing partner Scott Kennedy saying that all practice areas are
performing equally well. He describes the firm’s growth strategy as one of “organic growth,
while identifying individual lateral recruits whose practices are both a strategic and cultural
fit.” The firm has had to expand its premises as a result of the growth and is looking to
continue growing in 2010 with, inter alia, strategic lateral recruitment in the insurance area.
Aged 37, Kennedy may well be the youngest‐ever managing partner to grace the pages of
the Fast 10.
9. Hall & Wilcox
Managing partner: Tony Macvean
Revenue growth: 14%
Partners: 28 (12% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 71 (15% growth)
Hall & Wilcox earned A$31m in 2009, which managing partner Tony Macvean says is
vindication of a “multi‐focus” strategy. The firm has invested in areas such as litigation,
insolvency, Workcover and employment law, which have held up well during the economic
downturn. Macvean says that the firm’s private client practice, covering areas such as family
law and wealth management, has also been strong.
In contrast to rivals which have opened offices in Sydney and Brisbane, the Hall & Wilcox
strategy is to focus on Melbourne and to nurture quality and firm culture in that core
market. However, Macvean points out that the firm’s work is not necessarily Melbourne‐
8. Mills Oakley
CEO: John Nerurker
Revenue growth: 16%
Partners: 25 (25% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 61 (8% growth)
Mills Oakley recorded its fifth consecutive year of double‐digit growth in 2009 and while it’s
early days yet, CEO John Nerurker says that 2010 is on track to deliver more of the same.
The firm is buoyed by prestigious panel appointments including Telstra, GPT, Perpetual and
Suncorp‐Metway. The firm’s strategy of diversifying its offerings, particularly in counter‐
cyclical practice areas, and reinforcing its market position and geographic presence has
served it well throughout the downturn.
The firm earned A$31m last year but represents the dilemma of growth. While spectacular
growth is possible with mergers, Mills Oakley has not gone down this path. Nerurker is
proud of the fact that the firm is consistently able to make the Fast 10 on the back of organic
growth. He says that Mills Oakley‐ won’t compromise the quality of its partnership or brand
for the sake of short‐term growth.
7. Henry Davis York
Managing partner: Sharon Cook
Revenue growth: 16%
Partners: 48 (‐4% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 159 (10% growth)
Henry Davis York earned A$85m in revenue, which managing partner Cook attributes to
strong performance in key practice areas. Revenue in the public sector practice was up by
39%; in the insolvency and restructuring practice revenue was up by 26%.
Henry Davis York is committed to “sustainable and organic growth” and rarely recruits
partners from outside the firm, preferring a “grow your own” culture. This is a sharp
distinction from the approach adopted by most other Fast 10 firms. Cook predicts that the
firm will have a strong 2010 as a result of increased activity in both the litigation and public
6. Thomson Playford Cutlers
Chief executive partner: Adrian Tembel
Revenue growth: 10%
Partners: 47 (27% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 141 (36% growth)
Strong fee‐earner growth saw Thomson Playford advance up this year’s Fast 10. It is difficult
to assess how much of the firm’s growth is organic – Thomson’s has had an eventful year in
which the insurance practice broke away, with mutual agreement, to form the boutique firm
Gilchrist Connell. Thomsons then linked up with Cutler Hughes Harris in Sydney and Dibbs
Abbott Stillman in Melbourne, giving the firm a solid East Coast presence. Growth is spread
evenly across the offices, with the litigation practice being a particular highlight, recording
While CEP Adrian Tembel says the firm will be in consolidation mode over the next few
months, he expects that it will revisit the issue of geographic coverage and possible further
expansion in mid 2010. Thomson Playford also won the prize for Adelaide firm of the year at
this year’s ALB Awards.
5. M+K Lawyers
Managing director: Damian Paul
Revenue growth: 21%
Partners: 29 (24% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 48 (‐12% growth)
M+K Lawyers earned A$24m in revenue last financial year. While the firm has been in
expansion mode, acquisition activity has been limited to sole partner practices, which have
been built up with lateral hires. MD Paul attributes a large part of the firm’s growth to the
quality of the partnership (or principals, to use M+K’s terminology) and the confidence with
which work can be referred between partners and the referral of work via client word of
mouth. M+K is expecting to acquire its first multi‐partner firm in 2010. Paul attributes much
of the 2009 growth to the firm’s Sydney offices, but predicts that the Victorian offices will
see as much as 25% growth this year. And don’t be surprised if M+K makes a foray into a
new market in 2010 either.
4. Slater & Gordon
Managing director: Andrew Grech
Revenue growth: 29%
Other fee‐earners: 197 (13% growth)
Slater & Gordon earned A$103m in revenue last year. The firm had an aggressive growth
strategy which saw the acquisition of six firms, however managing director Andrew Grech
points out that half of the firm’s revenue growth can be attributed to organic growth.
In addition to its signature personal injury and litigation practices, Slater & Gordon is
working to broaden its service offering and diversify away from its Melbourne base. Forty
five per cent of the firm’s total revenue was derived from outside Victoria last year.
3. Wotton + Kearney
Managing partner: David Kearney
Revenue growth: 37%
Partners: 10 (11% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 36 (29% growth)
Some readers believe the Fast 10 should be determined by reference to organic growth only.
Those readers can stop reading at the end of this page – your fastest organic growth firm is
Wotton + Kearney with 37% growth and no mergers. This is a nice way to cap off a year
which also saw the firm pick up the ‘Insurance Specialist Firm of the Year’ prize at the ALB
Wotton + Kearney earned A$15m last year with a strategic revamp which saw it offer
broader services, including regulatory work, insurance policy drafting and reinsurance work.
The Melbourne office, previously confined to particular areas such as D&O insurance, is now
providing a more complete service. The economic downturn has inevitably contributed to a
rise in claims work, although David Kearney estimates that this accounts for only about half
of revenue growth. The firm has also introduced a 9.5 day fortnight for lawyers, where
lawyers can take a paid half day to pursue professional development or simply have a break.
2. Herbert Geer
Managing partner: William Fazio
Revenue growth: 52%
Partners: 50 (14% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 90 (18% growth)
As far as the purists are concerned, Herbert Geer may be the “true” winner of this year’s
Fast 10. It’s certainly the fastest‐growing law firm under a unified brand and conventional
structure. Managing partner Fazio and his team deserve credit for their implementation of
an ambitious vision, to build a strong East Coast presence for Herbert Geer.
The firm earned A$54m in revenue in 2009, which is a remarkable 52% increase on 2008.
FY2009 was the first full year where the 2008 mergers with Brisbane firm Nicol Robinson
Halletts and Sydney firm Rivlin Deschamps Kelly could be taken into account. However, Fazio
says that the entire firm is benefiting from a new sense of self‐belief. A “growth mentality”
has seen recruitment occur across a broad range of practice areas in the existing business,
including insurance, superannuation and IT.
Fazio said that the firm was “comfortable” with the profitability side of the equation and
that growth in Sydney and Brisbane would continue to be a particular priority over the
coming year. Herbert Geer is also keeping an open mind on the possibility of further
1. Integrated Legal Holdings
Managing director: Graeme Fowler
Revenue growth: 59%
Partners: 16 (82% growth)
Other fee‐earners: 47 (76% growth)
Revenue growth of 59% is fast growth, but is it a “law firm”? ILH earned A$17m in revenue
last year with an acquisition‐based growth strategy, yet the acquired firms will continue to
operate under their existing branding. Managing director Graeme Fowler says that he
intends to develop a national network of leading law firms in the capital cities and key
centres across Australia and predicts that as many as 20 firms will join the group over the
next ten years.
ILH suffered a significant decline in profitability last year and was criticised for what has
been described as an “ad hoc” growth strategy to date. Indeed, the very structure of ILH
makes the company an easy target for such observations. However, the ILH concept is
relatively new and it is natural that such a fundamentally different legal practice model will
attract scrutiny and criticism – which may or may not prove to be warranted. Time will tell
whether Fowler’s vision will be vindicated. These are uncharted waters for all concerned –
and that includes ALB.
Chapter 5: Career Tips ‐ Courses for Career Advancement
If career progression is on the cards, courses which expand and fine‐
tune certain skill sets can be a valuable advantage in a competitive job
market. While there are a variety of courses available to lawyers, there
is no 'one size fits all' study guide.
Liam Richardson of legal recruitment consultancy Taylor Root says that the choice of course
is essential the competitive edge it can provide. "Beyond professionally‐required
qualifications, further education will be viewed subjectively by different clients. If a
candidate is certain about wanting a career in a particular field ‐ for example IP or finance ‐
then an LLM may be a good idea," he said.
"An LLM or JD from the UK or the US is also particularly advantageous when applying for
positions with international organizations. Similarly, for those candidates looking to move
into quasi legal/business in‐house roles or ultimately to the business side, an MBA could be
an advantage. The candidate may be deemed as having a higher level of commercial acumen
given the content of the course."
Dr Peter Ellender, CEO of Carter Newell ‐ who himself completed an MBA program at the
University of Queensland ‐ agrees that undertaking further education can assist a lawyer's
career advancement. He adds that further study can fill some important gaps that are not
catered to in general legal education. "Lawyers who want to progress and build their
practice must be able to fully understand the issues that their clients are dealing with in
their day‐to‐day work. Legal training does not expose lawyers to commercial principles or
practices and so they generally have to learn these skills on the job," Ellender said.
"Further, it is important when running a business or a practice group that there is the
understanding of leadership principles and how to get the best out of team members. This
includes having essential management skills, providing clear outcomes, feedback and
encouragement ‐ as well as having people skills, so often called 'soft skills'."
"I believe these are missing from 'pure' legal education and even the Practice Management
Course for principals is limited in the areas of commerciality. So if a lawyer wants to progress
and build their practice then further study to grasp the commercial principles and practices
is a good option," he added.
Richardson adds that above all, having top grades, the quality of the institution and timing
are essential. "What is key are the results obtained at A‐Level and the degree as well as the
quality of training received on the training contract. These are the factors which will really
influence career advancement. Those candidates with strong academic results and training
from a top‐tier law firm will invariably attract the most attention from prospective
Having continuous work experience is always looked upon very favourably, so it may be
advisable to complete all further study prior to starting your career. Others might suggest a
down market might be a better time to pursue further education as you have the time to do
so. However, if you do stop work to pursue further education you must also remember that
you will have ultimately been out of practice for a year or two and may not be as desirable a
candidate as someone who has had no breaks in their employment record," he said.
According to Ellender, motivation and the right time is also critical when deciding to
undertake further study. Looking realistic look at one's schedule is also important. "A
rational approach will often show that there is never the right time to undertake study.
Having done an MBA while working full time, it does put pressure on home life and family,"
"But if the motivation is there it is amazing how time to study is created and assignments are
completed ‐ even if it does require working early in the mornings or sacrificing a favourite TV
program," he added. "Of course it takes time and effort, and considerable financial
investment to undertake further study, but at the end of the day the ROI is generally the
highest you can get in terms of career development."
Written by Daniela Aroche, Legal Jobs editor and writer for Australasian Legal Business
Brains VS beauty in the job market
Whoever thought looks had no impact on hiring potential is in for
a shock. Recent news suggests that beauty has much more to do
with whether you get that job than initially assumed.
According to reports by Gawker.com, Dov Charney, founder and
CEO of American Apparel, recently ordered that all the less
attractive people who work for the company be fired due to
fears that they may have been affecting the 'bottom line'.
Whilst Charney has denied the allegations, studies ‐ such as one by the University of Florida
which examine a link between a person's height and salary* ‐ tend to support the theory
that looks do impact on career.
However, corporate image advisor June Dally‐Watkins believes that whilst natural charm
and intelligence should always win out over plain good looks, presentation and styling are
extremely influential in career matters.
"While I believe a depth of beauty is more important than just good looks, presentation is
extremely important," she said.
"You don't have to be a good looking person, however, it is essential to present yourself well
from top to toe ‐ which means a nice hairstyle (whether male or female) and business
acceptable clothes, coordinated well. I believe a person should get the job the moment they
walk in the door, because of the way they present themselves."
Regardless of whether natural good looks play a part in attaining the role you're after, the
experts agree that overall presentation is undeniably a factor in the selection process and
getting those styling tips down pat can certainly contribute to your competitive edge.
According to June Dally‐Watkins, for ladies this means:
* Not wearing clothes with plunging necklines, bare midriffs or skirts that are too short
* They should wear make‐up which is acceptable to the job and apply it in a careful way ‐
not too heavy
* Hair groomed and not a lot hanging down the front of the shoulders
* A good haircut.
* To have posture which looks confidence and self‐assured
* A nice firm handshake, eye contact and most especially a warm friendly smile, which again,
reflects itself in the tone of one's voice
* The study by the University of Florida found two centimetres in height amounts to about
AU$940 more in pay each month. IE ‐someone who is 183 cm tall can expect to make
AUI$6,582 more each year than someone who stands 167 centimetres.
Law: a springboard to corporate glory
Part 1: 'Once a lawyer, always a lawyer'.
That, until recently, was the conventional wisdom through a large proportion of the business
world if not the profession itself. But greater recognition of the contribution that lawyers
can bring to the boardroom table is eroding the adage as fast as lawyers are climbing the
corporate hierarchy ‐ in some cases right to the top.
The option of the very senior corporate management role is now a very real one for the
gifted lawyer, perhaps especially those with a strong track record within corporations.
According to Peter Turner, chief executive officer, ACLA (close affiliate of the Hong Kong
Corporate Counsel Association), the move out of the corporate legal department into senior
management can be relatively seamless for an in‐house lawyer with such a career ambition.
"There are a great deal of lawyers who have become CEOs because of the nature of the
business, where a lot of legal principles are involved ‐ copyright issues, licensing issues, etc ‐
so lawyers moving into business roles isn't necessarily a new development," he says.
"However, I think we're now seeing more positions opening up as recognition increases of
the value that a law background brings... In‐house lawyers are being seen by managers as
real value‐adders ‐ people who understand the strategic issues that face the business."
As Turner explains, lawyers ‐ particularly those who have strong overseas experience or
those who have come into in‐house roles from quite senior positions at law firms ‐ can be
extremely well positioned to become part of management teams; and it is precisely their
track records of discussing with senior management pivotal transactions and substantive
issues facing businesses that makes them natural choices for leadership roles. This previous
intimate involvement in key commercial decisions provides them with a valuable advantage
over other prospective candidates for the coveted roles right at the peak of the corporate
But it doesn't stop there: "I think another key to any senior corporate role is people skills
and the ability to lead. Also, any management role demands problem‐solving skills. Lawyers
are equipped to solve problems ‐ they are taught to be very analytical. If they can combine
that with the people skills and leadership skills that all business leaders need to have, then
they are ahead of the pack in terms of the likelihood of being appointed to a senior
management role," said Turner.
The multi‐faceted nature of many senior in‐house positions ‐ corporate lawyer, head of
compliance, company secretary, etc ‐ also makes the move into a senior management
position easier. "Being an in‐house lawyer is one of the few positions in any corporation
where you see the entire business, says Turner.”A senior person in a marketing or finance
role may see just one slice of the business, but in a legal role you see the lot and you deal
right across the corporation ‐ upwards to the CEO and to the board and downwards through
all the ranks of management to staff. As a lawyer you naturally develop that breadth of
knowledge and experience of the corporation that very few others get."
The pros and cons of a lawyer on the board of directors:
Whilst a lawyer has many talents which can invariably make the transition from in‐house
lawyer to senior corporate management success, there are certain things to watch out for:
The many strengths a lawyer can offer include:
* an instinctive feel for risk and strong risk management skills
* an understanding of complex fact scenarios and clear thinking in difficult circumstances
* a solid awareness of responsibilities and accountability
But some lawyers can display the following weaknesses:
* a tendency to be too cautious and to over‐emphasise theoretical risks
* a lack of commercial or business sense
* a strong focus on the black letter of the law, which can slow decision‐making and inhibit
Source: Australian Institute of Company Directors
Part 2: Reaching Corporate Management Positions
The motivations and ways for lawyers to reach senior corporate management positions are,
happily, as various as the positions themselves.
For many lawyers the motivation behind a move to senior corporate management may be
because it is simply the next, often last, big step up the career ladder ‐ a change in
responsibilities and a fresh challenge. For others, the big attraction of such a role is the
opportunity to use the skills learnt in practice in a more influential, operational, commercial
and executive context.
"One of the benefits is that you do get rid of that lawyer's stamp and in effect you take your
skills to the next level and you are able to bring those skills to bear for the benefit of the
entire organisation ‐ whereas in the legal role you are helping to facilitate deals and get
things done, but you're not influencing the entire corporation. I think there's a huge
attraction in being able to move up to the next level and to really be part of the
management team and the decision‐making role," said Peter Turner, chief executive officer
of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association.
John O'Sullivan is currently chairman of the Australian Investment Banking Department of
Credit Suisse (Australia) Limited. O'Sullivan, a former partner at Freehills and former general
counsel at Commonwealth Bank Australia, saw the main attraction of pursuing a
management position as being the opportunity to wield greater corporate influence and
engage in a stimulating mix of work that provided the best of both worlds.
"Moving to CBA was my first opportunity to manage a large team of people, but more
importantly I became a member of the CBA executive committee ‐ the 10‐person team that
reports to the CEO and helps him run the bank. That meant that I was able to participate in
key decision making at one of the country's great institutions. That was a great attraction,"
"Credit Suisse then offered different advantages. It enabled me
to return to the kind of deal doing I loved at Freehills but from
an investment banking perspective. It was also exciting because
of its truly global businesses and focus and because of the
awesome intellectual horsepower it commands."
On a personal level, the move to management also provided
O'Sullivan with a fresh challenge and an opportunity to learn
new skills as an individual.
"I also wanted to broaden my skills and prove to myself I could
John O'Sullivan, succeed at more than one career," he said. "That's high risk ‐ it
Chairman, Australian would have been much safer to stay doing the kind of corporate
Investment Banking transactional legal work I knew I was good at ‐ but I knew if I
Department, Credit succeeded it would be high reward too."
The path to the top for other corporate leaders has been more of an evolution. David
Krasnostein is now head of MLC Private Equity, but was formerly Telstra's first general
counsel, head of strategic planning and corporate planning and then NAB's chief group
general counsel. For him the transition was less of a clearly defined goal and more a natural
"I think it was a natural next step for me. When I got into
law I was very passionate about being a lawyer and that
passion lasted a long time ‐ about 30 years.
"After a couple of years at Telstra, I attended INSEAD in Paris
where I did a three‐month international executive program,
and that got me very interested in the business side. I then
David Krasnostein, head of moved to NAB as corporate counsel, and although that was
MLC Private Equity a pure legal role, I kept an interest in the commercial side of
things." he said.
“It took me some years to circle back again and decide that I actually wanted to run a
business, but [my move to management] was a combination of a general desire to run a
business and a feeling I had practiced law long enough. Thirty years was a bit of a milestone
and I thought I'd probably done everything I wanted to do as a lawyer. I was interested in
doing something that would be more stimulating for me. Those two things came together at
the same time and it was just the right time to take the next step."
Some lawyers make the move to management because of an express desire for a change of
environment. Gai McGrath, general manager of customer service at BT Financial Group
(BTFG ‐ the wealth management division of Westpac), is a case in point. "When I was
approached to join BTFG in 2003, one of the key attractions of the role as general manager,
risk solutions was the opportunity to take on a broader risk management role and join a
larger organisation," she said.
"The opportunity to move completely into broader general management came in early 2006
when I was appointed head of customer service delivery for BT's Customer Solutions
business. Then, when Westpac and St George merged in 2008, a new position of general
manager, customer service was created for the merged wealth business and I was fortunate
to be appointed. I now lead over 1,000 people across seven different locations in Australia
who service over three million interactions with our customers each year ranging from
contact centre to complex unit pricing of our funds."
Like Krasnostein, the opportunity to embark on a new challenge and expand on the skills she
had learnt as a lawyer was also a major incentive for McGrath to move to management.
"I felt I had achieved all that I wanted to achieve as an in‐house lawyer and risk management
professional... I wanted new challenges in areas that I had no relevant expertise," she said.
Motivations aside, the decision to switch out of a lucrative, stable and engaging position
within the legal profession itself into the corporate cut‐and‐thrust is a momentous one for
any lawyer. It should, therefore, not be taken lightly or without due consideration of all the
Knowing when to jump is key, as is analysing exactly where one is in terms of career
progression. No matter how well suited to a management position a lawyer may be, there
are risks involved.
"Unless you are jumping directly into a senior management role, the move out of the legal
department into line management is very often something that entails moving backwards in
terms of remuneration but with the prospect of moving forward at a later point on time.
There's obviously some risk associated with that jump, so you have to think about whether
you are really suited to a line management type of role and whether the rest of your career
is really going to be outside the law," says Turner.
"It's quite hard to come back into a legal role once you've moved out at least for any period
of time because you don't keep your technical legal skills up to date and if you do decide to
move back into legal at some point, you may be faced with the same choice ‐ are you willing
to move back in order to move forward. So that's the single most important thing to
consider ‐ at what stage and to what role are you going to move.
"The second thing to look at very seriously is whether you have the skills that are going to be
required here. They are very often soft skills things like people management, leadership and
team‐based skills, rather than the hard skills that legal qualifications might give you ... You
might want to enhance your soft skills by going to a company director’s course or something
of that kind."
Part 3: Becoming CEO
Once you have decided that a move into corporate management is for you, how do you go
about making the switch to that venerated CEO position?
According to David Talalla, director of recruitment company David Talalla & Associates, the
lawyer's route of ascent to the loftiest of corporate management positions depends largely
on the type of management role in question.
"It depends on the role [you want]. If it's a legal‐related management position then most
companies would be looking for a candidate with top‐tier firm experience. However, with a
non‐legal corporate management position, a law degree and background is highly regarded
especially if it is combined with some form of management skills and a qualification such as
an MBA," he said. "Nevertheless, the more common route is to practice in a firm for several
years before going on secondment with a client or being hired by a client as in‐house
counsel, and then from there moving to a management position."
Like many lawyers who shift into corporate management roles, Gai McGrath, general
manager of customer service at BT Financial Group (BTFG ‐ the wealth management division
of Westpac), began her legal career as a private‐practice lawyer.
She began in 1986 as a solicitor with Sydney‐based law firm Rosenblum & Partners, before
studying at the London School of Economics for a masters in law in1989. After a stint
practicing as a solicitor with London law firm, SJ Berwin & Co, she returned to Rosenblums
(she became a partner in 1993) before moving into an in‐house role and then progressing to
a true management role.
"In 1996 [after seven years in private‐practice] I decided to make the step to in‐house
counsel when I joined Perpetual, eventually becoming general counsel & company secretary
in 1999. At this point I joined Perpetual's executive team and was able to gain broad
exposure to the company's business and strategic decision‐making ‐ this opened my eyes to
the opportunity to take the step beyond being a strategic adviser to being a strategic
decision‐maker," she said.
Although the climb into corporate management was luckily effortless for McGrath, she
admits it was a career change which required full focus and total commitment
"For me it was a smooth transition because firstly by being the general manager of Risk
Solutions at BT I had already moved away from day to day legal work and secondly I made
the conscious decision not to renew my practicing certificate so that I didn't have that
‘safety blanket" and had to be fully committed to the transition."
John O'Sullivan, currently chairman of the Australian Investment Banking Department of
Credit Suisse (Australia) Limited, however, had a different experience.
He also got his start as a private‐practice lawyer ‐ beginning work at Freehills straight out of
law school in 1978, where he spent the next 25 years (becoming a partner in 1983) before
becoming general counsel at CBA in June 2003.
"I joined Credit Suisse at the start of 2008, but the two big changes in my career path ‐from
private practice to general counsel at CBA and then my move from CBA to Credit Suisse ‐
were driven by very similar catalysts. Each was partly opportunistic in that I was lucky
enough to be offered fascinating, challenging roles with world class organisations. But more
importantly, each gave me an opportunity to stretch myself, to widen my skills and do
something genuinely new and exciting," he said.
"However, [in my opinion] it's not an easy transition. You do need to unlearn some of the
things you value as a lawyer. For example you need to learn to manage risk, not avoid it
altogether. You also need to learn new skills ‐ for example, lawyers aren't always necessarily
good at managing larger teams of people."
To learn these skills, several lawyers who have eventually made the move into management
have undertaken a series of courses to help them acquire or hone the skills required to
succeed in corporate management type roles. Although the completion of these courses has
not single‐handedly guided them to corporate glory, it has certainly helped.
"In 2005 I did the International Executive program at Insead Business School in
Fontainebleau in France and Singapore," said McGrath.
"This program is specifically designed for executives making the transition from more
technical roles to broader general management; and in addition to teaching me about
technical subjects such as marketing and financial management, the course helped me
understand what I needed to change about the way I operated in order to be successful in a
David Krasnostein, now head of MLC Private Equity, undertook the same course at INSEAD
shortly before his move into management and although the course helped cement his
decision to make the jump, he says making the right choice about which management role
he wanted was equally important to his success and the ease of the transition.
"The INSEAD course was very useful in helping me to move into the corporate management
role, but it was a natural transition. I had to move to a management role which was going to
hold my interest," he said.
"John Stewart (who was the CEO of NAB at the time) had shown me a few businesses that he
was happy for me to run, but upon closer examination, they seemed to involve a lot of
operational type issues. What attracted me to the private equity business was that it
appeared to be the logical next step from what I had already been doing. Private equity at its
simplest is really buying and selling companies, which is something I had been doing for
about 30 years ‐ albeit from the legal side ‐ so at least the concept and the core business was
something I was very familiar with."
However, no road to success is the same ‐ as O'Sullivan reveals. Unlike McGrath and
Krasnostein, he did not study any management course before landing his role in corporate
management, but says that despite that many of the skills he learnt as a lawyer were useful
in adjusting to the move.
"I had no formal training but lots of on‐the‐job crash courses!" he said. "But on the other
hand life as an in‐house lawyer does teach you how large organisations work and does teach
you very valuable skills enabling you to maximise your impact in a corporate setting.
"The key skills in corporate management are people skills as much as (or more than)
technical skills. Strategic vision and industry understanding are also critical. For lawyers,
technical skills are critical, people skills are important and strategic understanding is nice. So
different priorities among the skill set apply to managers as opposed to lawyers."
Experience as an in‐house lawyer undoubtedly provides an advantage for those looking to
move into management but it is important to keep mind that while the skills and
responsibilities learnt as a lawyer are an added bonus, they alone are not the key to
"Take the time to undertake some self‐reflection and 360 degree feedback so you
understand that what made you successful as a lawyer may not be what will make you
successful in a general management role. You may need to be prepared to change in some
fundamental ways and unless you're willing to undertake this difficult transition it may not
be for you," said McGrath.
Peter Turner, chief executive officer of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, who
himself made the move from in‐house lawyer (previously head of legal at Fosters) to a
corporate management role, agrees that whilst there is no set map to corporate glory, there
are two windows of opportunity along a lawyers career path during which a successful
switch is more likely.
"It is generally quite difficult to make the transition into a more strategic role because you
are always in a position where you have to trade off what it might do to your career as a
lawyer and whether you will be able to return to a legal role down the track," he said.
"[For this reason] I believe you have to make the jump fairly early or quite late, rather than
at mid‐level. If you make the move earlier, you have the opportunity to recover and you also
have the opportunity to come into a management role at a time where other people are also
doing the same and you'll really succeed on your own merit. If you do it later in your career,
you have all the accumulated experience of having worked across the organisation as senior
counsel and had the years of management to see how it works in practice. Then you can
make that change at that level almost seamlessly. Many lawyers contemplating that kind of
switch later in their careers also augment their training by doing MBAs or financial skills
training or public speaking training."
7 Ways to Screw Up Your Legal Career
Part 1 ‐ Don't be a bully
A survey by Drake International of over 800
Australia‐wide employees recently revealed that
bullying is still rife in Australian workplaces, with
more than 50% of survey respondents stating that
they had witnessed bullying behaviour and over 25%
saying they had been a target of bullying themselves.
It's not a striking revelation that bullying is a bad
road to go down, but often in high‐powered, competitive and stressful professions ‐ such as
law ‐ there can be a fine line to walk between a hard word and 'constructive criticism' and
However, with surveys such as the aforementioned raising awareness of bullying in the
workplace and the introduction of codes of practices, changes to legislation and stringent
new harassment laws set to be introduced by the Federal Government, the issue of
workplace bullying is gaining momentum. So it's a good idea to ensure that you are not
crossing the line.
"I think there's greater awareness in the workforce about what's acceptable and what's not
and organisations have in place proper policies and procedures. I also think a lot of Gen Y
won't put up with what older Gen X and Baby Boomers put up with ‐ because they've never
worked in a workplace that hasn't had an awareness of bullying. Previous generations had a
tendency to put up and shut up," says Jo Kamira, principal at Wise Workplace Investigations.
Another point Kamira makes is that there are many misconceptions about what 'bullying'
consists of and those misconceptions can lead to serious mistakes which could negatively
impact on your career.
She notes that often the first things that spring to mind when the word 'bullying' is used are
the hazing or initiation rites that tradespeople or apprentices suffer; and following that overt
sexual harassment comes to mind. However, she says that bullying often takes far more
‘sometimes it's hard to put your finger on what's wrong. It can be that subtle. It can be little
things like assuming that because someone has a position they should be able to do a job,
but not giving them the information to do that job. That's not overt ‐ it could be explained
away by saying the workplace is very busy or the manager doesn't have the time. But if that
manager thinks that person isn't really capable then that's a subtle type of bullying as well,
which is just as insidious as someone doing something overt," she said.
There are many types of bullying (see box‐out below); and in this day and age, in some ways,
bullies have also been aided by the rise of the internet and e‐communication where instant
communication such as Twitter makes it easy to transmit messages that are offensive,
humiliating or intimidating.
However, Kamira says she has been surprised that in the process of investigating several
cases of alleged e‐bullying by managers, she's discovered another form of bullying, called
'upwards bullying', where the manager is sometimes being bullied by employee.
For example, upwards bullying may be used to destroy an individual's reputation ‐ and in the
competitive job market, this is more commonplace than one might believe.
Cost of bullying
Taking a moment to introspectively analyse whether you may be a bully or using bullying
tactics is worth considering if you're serious about your career development and want to be
part of a successful firm ‐ otherwise there could be a high price to pay.
2008 data puts the cost of workplace bullying at A$160,000 per 100 employees per annum,
which equates to A$1,600 per person per year. However, the cost of bullying can be
measured in more ways than one, according to Bernie Althofer, managing director of EGL I
"This data may not take into consideration the diverse range of indirect costs that can be
incurred and there does not appear to be any way of collecting those costs without creating
a bureaucratic reporting process," said Bernie Althofer, managing director of EGL I
These include performance and productivity, sickness ‐ such as direct and indirect costs
including benefits, administration, plus costs associated with medical/ill‐health retirement
etc, medical costs ‐ including the provision of welfare and counselling, occupational health
services, doctor/psychologists/psychiatrists/counsellors and consultants' reports, etc.
There are also consequential losses ‐ such as those direct and indirect costs including staff
leaving, training investment, loss of knowledge and experience of subject, clients,
customers, procedures, etc, and the flow on effects from adverse publicity.
Word of mouth and a bad reputation also travel fast and you may inadvertently be
sabotaging your chances of attracting the best talent to work with you later down the track.
How to turn bullying behaviour into best practice
So how do you know if you're being a bully or coming across as one?
While there's no test or surefire way to identify whether you are viewed as a bully, there are
checkpoints that can be helpful to avoid offending those in the workplace and certain ways
to be tactful when dealing with employees and employers to ensure you're not crossing the
* Firm but fair
Being a boss isn't a popularity contest. Everyone needs a telling off at some point. Do not
scold people severely with a dressing down; just make your point firmly without intimidating
or frightening your employees.
* Take a deep breath
Don't shout every time you feel the temperature rising. Do your best to restrain yourself and
take a step back. If you get a reputation as a tantrum king or queen then you will
automatically get the bully label.
Find time to sit down and communicate with your team or assistant, no matter how busy
you are. Thrashing out the week's priorities over a coffee will reduce stress levels and any
potential conflict when the going gets tough.
* Measure yourself
If you have a problem with one of your team then address it in the right manner. Do not rant
or bitch about their shortcomings behind their back as this will undermine them and
ultimately make them feel inferior and excluded. It might also make them a target for
* Keep a level playing field
While people deserve praise when they have done a good job, make sure you play fair.
Letting 'favourites' develop is a dangerous game that can upset office politics and make
people feel excluded.
* Don't be a mirror
If you don't like the way your boss treats you, don't act like them. Think about how you feel
when someone treats you badly. Just because you've been managed badly, doesn't mean
you have the right to dish it out further down the line.
* Listen to ideas
If someone challenges you, don't bite their head off. Think about what they have to say,
make a note and let them know how their idea may work next time.
* Don't leave people out
When you organise the company get‐together, make sure everyone is involved. Try and
encourage everyone to attend if they can, and don't let anyone feel that they are being
excluded or left out.
Source: http://www.dignityatwork.org/advice/what‐is‐bullying/. * The Dignity at Work
Partnership is the world's largest anti‐bullying project.
Types of bullying
There may be a perception that workplace bullying is a one‐on‐one situation. Whilst this
might be true in some cases, there is research that suggests others might be involved. In his
1996 book Bully in Sight, Tim Field outlined the following types of bullying:
* Pressure or unwitting
o Stress of the moment ‐ 'normal' behaviour
o When organisations struggle to adapt to changing markets, reduced income, cuts in
budgets, imposed expectations and other external pressures
o Where employer abuses employees with impunity knowing that the law is weak and jobs
are scarce ‐ coercing employees to work 60/70/80 hours a week and then making life hell for
anyone who complains
o When bullying becomes part of the culture and accepted
o When employees are bullied by those they serve or when employees bully their clients
o Where the source of all dysfunction can be traced to one individual, who picks on one
employee after another
o Unwitting bullying which people start exhibiting when there's a serial bully in the
o Serial bully with a colleague. One talks and the other watches and listens. Watch the quiet
one. Usually opposite gender and frequently there's an affair going on.
o Serial bully with colleagues. They flourish in corporate bullying climates.
* Bully as an extrovert ‐ shouter and screamer ‐ easily identifiable and recordable
* Introvert ‐ in background initiating the mayhem ‐ harder to identify ‐ most dangerous
o Where two parties are encouraged to engage in adversarial interaction or conflict
o Where the serial bully forces their target to comply with rules, regulations, procedures or
laws regardless of their appropriateness, applicability or necessity
o Bullying of all kinds that continues after the serial bully has left. Like recruits, etc.
o Promotes, therefore the serial bully bequeaths a dysfunctional environment to those who
o Misuse of e‐mail systems or internet forums for sending aggressive flame mail. Also called
Cyber stalking and now referred to by some as cyber bullying
Part 2 ‐ Walking the fine line between self‐confidence and egotism
To make it to the top in law, you need to be self‐confident ‐ in your
ability and skills as well as in your own persona and ability to deal with
clients or colleagues.
However whilst a healthy level of self‐confidence is a good thing, too
much of an ego can be a draw‐back which could cost you a promotion
and seriously stall your career development.
"Of course, self‐confidence is an essential tool in career development as it usually
demonstrates a lawyer is in control of their workload and more specifically the area of law
he/she practices in. It also assures clients that they are in good hands and the lawyer they
have hired is well equipped to handle their matter/deal etc and from the firms point of view,
this is the message they are looking to convey to their clients. However, it must not be
confused with arrogance or egotistical traits which are usually a form of disguise for lack of
knowledge or more commonly a flaw in character," said David Talalla director of David
Talalla & Associates.
Talalla adds that whilst the culprits of inflated egos are often people who are not at the top
yet but think they have what it takes, lawyers who are excellent at their craft are not
immune, so it can be ironic when those that are particularly brilliant in their area of
speciality become so egotistical it can detract from an otherwise stellar career.
"There is definitely a fine line to tread between self‐confidence and having an inflated ego.
However, in most cases this is easily distinguished once you start scratching below the
surface. The inflated ego is usually associated with someone who either thinks he knows
everything about his speciality and is not willing to listen or learn, or is not on top of their
game but thinks they can bluff their way through by virtue of their inflated ego. The difficult
one to gauge is the rare people who are extremely good at what they do and have an
inflated ego to go with it," he said.
"This can be extremely detrimental to ones career as it usually means an unwillingness to
listen and learn and in most cases the inability to work closely with others in a team or
collegiate environment. The obvious thing a lawyer could miss out on is a career path to
Are you at risk of an inflated ego?
* You swing between two states: being "nice" and plain arrogance.
* You think and talk about standards, morals and rules a lot.
* You often take things personally and way too seriously.
* You feel deeply wounded when something you've done or even YOU yourself has been
rejected in some capacity.
* You are not fond of the masses or those who are in positions of authority.
* You consider being "right" as the most important thing.
* You feel the world owes you something.
* You honestly believe you're above everyone else.
* You often walk around feeling very proud.
* You disdain what you believe you can't/shouldn't have.
* You must have your way (a little too often).
* You feel it's you against "them".
* You are never a beginner at anything!
* You justify and defend absolutely everything.
How do you fix it?
* Start by admitting to yourself that you have a large ego,
* Ask yourself: Am I really, truly getting what I want (in business and life)?
* Step outside yourself and analyse your behaviours. Seek the assistance of someone you
trust who is direct and honest to help you out.
* Revise your standards: Ask yourself why you hold such standards. No, I mean REALLY ask
yourself. You'll probably trace your standards back to a bad experience which you've let
negatively shape all your beliefs and behaviours.
* Reserve judgment for everything.
* Don't take things personally, or too seriously. Not everything is intended to be taken to
* Don't let emotion cloud decision making. Emotions are transient ‐ they may not be a true
reflection of the situation at hand.
Source: Paul J. Morris. To learn more head to www.flyingsolo.com.au.
Part 3 ‐ Dealing with disagreements in the workplace
"A lawyer's career can definitely be affected by
engaging or provoking personal conflict. The severity
of the impact depends on who the personal conflict
is with," said David Talalla, director of David Talalla &
Associates. "If it is with a superior then it could lead
to cut in supply of high calibre work or a change in
team for the solicitor. If it is a partner or senior
lawyer then word gets around not just within the
firm but to other lawyers who may be interested in
working for that firm but not with that particular partner or senior/special counsel."
There are many situations from which personal conflict can arise, but one of the main
causes, often overlooked, is too much 'assertiveness' or an aggressive attitude towards co‐
workers, staff and/or managers. And whilst standing up for your rights and defending your
opinions in the workplace is a necessary skill, the wrong approach can create tension and
"It all comes down to the way the message is conveyed and the body language of the person
conveying that message," said Talalla. "If a point is put across in an aggressive or strict
manner, it could cause conflict."
Michael Connolly, special counsel in the workplace relations and safety group at HWL
Ebsworth agrees and says: "Being assertive does not mean being aggressive, abusive or
displaying any form of intimidatory behaviour. From a lawyers perspective being assertive
requires the lawyer to continue to act professionally and courteously in any dealings with
other lawyers or the Courts. Crossing the line may breach professional standards
requirements and from an employment perspective where a person's behaviour to another
employee goes beyond merely ‘sticking to your guns" on an issue and becomes aggressive or
threatening then that person may be displaying bullying behaviour."
Conflict, or a memory of it, often have a big impact on the effectiveness of your
collaboration, exchange of ideas, and information sharing ‐ which in turn can not only put a
huge dampener on career advancement but also isolate you from other colleagues and
cause you to miss out on opportunities.
"This type of behaviour may be ostracised by other members of the workplace. Given the
requirement to at times consult with colleagues, a lawyer who is known to behave
aggressively, particularly in stressful situations, will soon find that other lawyers will be less
inclined to assist them," said Connolly. Often such behaviour results in a toxic workplace
developing with a high turnover of staff and a fall in productivity. This will often come to the
notice of Managing Partners with serious consequences for the perpetrator.
According to Shawn Skyring, partner at Truman Hoyle Lawyers, the best way to avoid
personal conflict is by minimizing stressful situations as much as possible and monitoring the
way you relate to your fellow co‐workers, staff and managers.
"Employees can avoid conflicts at work by looking after their own well being outside of work
‐ for example, exercise, recreation, personal development activities, eating well and
sufficient rest ‐ all of these things can reduce the stress on an individual and help maintain
the dynamics in the workplace.
"Also, always being aware of how your actions will affect the dynamics in a workplace is
crucial. You need to be able to be empathetic with employees to maintain the highest levels
of moral possible. It's not hard, it just means being responsive to employees' needs (within
reason). You need to be aware of how others are affected by your actions and approaches."
Tips for avoiding personal conflict in the workplace
* Approach conflict with an open mind. Recognize that conflict is not about one person
being "right" and another "wrong"; rather, it's about different people with different
perceptions. Try to understand the other person's point of view and how he or she arrived at
it. Resolving conflict involves coming to a mutually satisfactory relationship rather than one
person giving in to another.
* Consider what might have caused the conflict. Is it a difference in styles, opinions?
Evaluate how your words or actions may have contributed to the situation. It's hard to look
at yourself objectively, but try to place yourself in the other person's shoes. Consider how
you might be able to handle the situation differently.
* Be respectful of differences. Workplaces today are more diverse than ever, with
employees of different ages, cultures and background. What one person might consider
acceptable behavior might be insulting to another. Look into attending or sponsoring a
diversity program in your workplace so you can learn to work effectively with a diverse
* Listen carefully. Try not to jump to any conclusions. When the other person talks,
acknowledge his or her feelings, and paraphrase back what you are hearing. Make sure you
understand the issue fully before responding.
* Carefully consider the type of language you use. Try to communicate without placing
blame on the other person, e.g., "It seems like there may be some tension between us."
* If the conflict has progressed, get some help. Ask a manager you respect for feedback on
how you might handle the situation. You could ask for help from your manager, a human
resources professional, or a manager in a different department.
* Be sure the problem is resolved. The fact that you feel better about a situation may not be
enough. Make sure your co‐worker similarly feels that he/she has been heard and that the
issue has been resolved. Also, set guidelines about what you will do if there is conflict in the
future. You might say something like, "Let's commit that you will let me know right away if I
do something that upsets you, and when you bring it to my attention, we will stop what we
are doing to address it."
Part 4 ‐ Career timing
When you're thinking of making that all‐important career
move, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to wait
too long or move up too fast. Timing is critical ‐ and if you
get it wrong it could backfire and set you back
According to Peter Turner, chief executive officer of the
Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, moving at the
wrong time ‐ to corporate management in particular ‐
could impact negatively on a lawyer's career.
"It is generally quite difficult to make the transition into a more strategic role because you
are always in a position where you have to trade off what it might do to your career as a
lawyer, and whether you will be able to return to a legal role down the track," he said.
"Apart from the untimely loss of a potentially successful legal career, there is also the risk of
‘stuffing up" in the new management role. That risk is accentuated if you're not really ready
for it. Line management can be a more volatile and competitive existence than life in a legal
department. It requires a different 'survivor' skill‐set, and can require making the switch to
step back in seniority in order to learn the ropes, before you are considered for a step up.
It's also often a lonely existence without the support of a team, so a level of maturity is
While management is certainly a golden option for lawyers wanting to advance in their
career, Turner warns that it is not the only option available and it should not be taken lightly.
"I think that the most common mistake that some lawyers moving into management make is
to fail to appreciate the enormous depth and breadth of the in‐house legal profession and
the opportunities that it offers. It is very easy to imagine that a management role will give
you more power and autonomy than a legal one. When you see the salaries that some CEO's
earn, you might also imagine that it's a path to riches too," he said.
"While there are plenty of examples of lawyers becoming excellent managers, there is an
inherent risk in making the change of becoming a 'two‐time loser' ‐ failing to succeed as a
manager and then finding it impossible to resume a career as a lawyer."
There are several factors to consider when moving into management, and if it will be a
positive for your career. The macro factors are: (i) where is your department/the
company/the industry you work in headed; (ii) what is the economy doing and will it impact
on a career in management?
The micro factors include: (i) am I personally ready for this, with my age, health, skills and
other important things assessed; (ii) what about my family? Will this affect my children at
their age/s; (iii) what does my mentor/confidant think about the move?
Turner also advises there are several precautions a lawyer can observe to safeguard against
a complete 'crash and burn' situation if the switch is not fruitful. "Caution is a good thing,
but too much can result in lost opportunity. The chance to make a change to management
often comes up unexpectedly, at short notice and usually not at the optimum moment in
your career. The secret ‐ if you have the ambition to move ‐ is to be as prepared as possible.
* Build contacts with the right people; learn to recognise the wrong ones
* Follow a policy of continuous improvement ‐ training/work ethic/work‐life balance
* Watch for signs of change so as to give yourself as much lead‐time as possible and be able
to respond when the opportunity comes."
However, he says that if it goes wrong and you've prepared properly, you may well get a
second chance. "Everyone stuffs up at some stage in management ‐ it's not fatal! But just to
be safe remember these things:
* Keep your practicing certificate
* Watch the legal marketplace (know your 'price')
* Maintain your legal contacts
* Don't 'bad‐mouth' former colleagues"
Part 5 – Not renewing your practicing certificate
To practice law in Australia without a valid
practising certificate is an offence ‐ so it goes
without saying that not renewing your practising
certificate at the proper time can be one of the
biggest mistakes you can make as a lawyer.
The professional association to which a lawyer
applies for a practising certificate differs ‐ typically,
solicitors apply to a law society and prospective barristers to a bar association; but in 'fused'
jurisdictions, such as South Australia, the law society issues practising certificates for both
solicitors and barristers. All practising certificates must be renewed annually.
If they are not renewed at the right time, it could cost you your career.
"It is illegal to practise as a solicitor without a current practising certificate, so [not renewing
it] is not an option," said a spokesperson from the Law Society of NSW. "Penalties for
practicing as a solicitor without a practicing certificate can include a maximum A$22,000 fine
and it can also constitute professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct and, depending
on the length of time a lawyer practises without a certificate and whether it was deliberate
or not. A range of orders can be made as well as the fine, including an order removing the
person's name from the roll of lawyers."
Renewal is also usually subject to certain conditions and solicitors must comply with a
number of statutory requirements as part of the renewal process, including having
professional indemnity insurance and showing completion of the mandatory CLE (continuing
According to the spokesperson from the Law Society of NSW, there are a few circumstances
where lawyers may not renew their practising certificates.
‘some solicitors will let their certificate lapse for a while if they are going overseas or not
using it for a period of time and then re‐apply for it when they wish to commence practice
again. Also, solicitors generally don't renew their certificate if they are retiring or no longer
wish to practise as a solicitor ‐ for example, if they're moving to a non‐legal position."
This is one circumstance where renewing a practising certificate is not required ‐ but it might
be a good idea anyway.
"If a lawyer is considering a 'switch' to corporate management, they can elect to retain their
practising certificate regardless of whether they are practising or not," said the
spokesperson from the Law Society of NSW.
It may not be a bad idea according to the experts in last weeks' article, if the move into
management isn't all roses, you can always settle back into legal life immediately.
Part 6 ‐ Poaching clients
Whilst it may be commonplace for lawyers to take their client base with
them when they move firms or branch into new business, there is a fine
line that should not be crossed when it comes to clientele; and 'poaching'
or 'stealing' clients from a previous employer or a rival firm could result in
a tattered reputation.
"The legal fraternity is a deceivingly small and one's reputation is usually
determinative of success. Success in the law is often not only dependant
upon building solid networks with professionals in other industries, but also requires trust
and candour amongst colleagues within the profession," said Donna Adams, legal ethics
solicitor and ethics department manager at the Law Institute of Victoria (Ltd).
"While there's no prohibition in the Professional Conduct & Practice Rules 2005 to taking
clients with you when you leave a firm, it's really important to manage the transition well.
Firms might employ you with some trepidation if they knew you had a practice of taking
your clients with you as you moved and changed throughout your career. They might also
be more likely to get you signed up at the commencement of your employment in order to
prevent any 'leakage' of their client base," she said.
If the situation is not handled correctly and ethically, poaching clients could also 'burn
bridges' with a previous employer and ‐ depending on the firm and the contract applicable
to the lawyer ‐ poaching clients could also be deemed a breach of contract which would
further soil a lawyer's reputation in the industry.
"The clients need to be given 14 days notice in writing of any intention to transfer their file
so that they have time to give the firm a contrary direction if they wish," said Adams.
‘some firms have also been known to stipulate in their employment contracts that the
practitioner is unable to contact clients for up to a 2 year period after leaving the firm
(although this time period often differs) and breach of these conditions may leave you open
to litigation. Best practice would be to leave your previous employment unsullied by any
inference of wrongdoing. Therefore tings like: copying client lists, precedents or other client
documents onto your personal USB stick should be avoided at all costs."
According to Adams, to avoid problems with a departing firm and keep their reputation
intact ‐ setting aside any possible condition of employment that might prevent a practitioner
from encouraging clients to transfer their files when the practitioner separates from the firm
‐ usually the prudent practitioner should first;
1) Speak to the firm about whether an arrangement may be made, particularly for clients for
whom they have acted for many years, or that they might have originally brought along to
the firm with them;
2) Tell the client they are moving ‐ unless they have arranged with the firm to take the client
with them and the firm agrees to transfer the file. Then best practice would be to let the
client know that if they wish to contact them, they should call the Law Institute of Victoria
for their forwarding address details. (This is better than directly giving clients their new
address and keeps their reputation as squeaky clean as possible.)
3) If the firm is content for them to take clients with them, ensure that Rules 23 and 24 of
the Professional Conduct & Practice Rules 2005 are complied with. (Bear in mind also that if
there are outstanding monies on the clients file, the firm may require you to give an
undertaking or some other satisfactory security to ensure payment of their costs before
transferring the file)
http://www.legaljobscentre.com – Legal Jobs
http://au.legalbusinessonline.com – Australasian Legal Business
http://www.albmasterclass.com – ALB Masterclass Series
Part 7 ‐ Bad behaviour at the office Christmas party
According to Caroline Vickers‐Willis, the marketing
manager for recruitment agency RossJuliaRoss,
lawyers in particular need to display proper conduct
at work‐related functions. If they don't, a slip‐up
could cost them their reputation and in some cases
even their job. "Although improper conduct in any
work environment can have negative consequences,
in the legal profession an employee's reputation is
important for their firm, their clients and themselves
so it's important to make sure your behaviours reflect the type of reputation you wish to
have," Vickers‐Willis said.
"The extent of the potential damage usually depends on the extent or the impropriety of the
behaviour. But the negative consequences of improper behaviour at these events can
include damaged promotion prospects, legal infringements or even loss of one's position if
the behaviour was extremely inappropriate."
Although Vickers‐Willis added that it's not 'commonplace' for significantly negative events to
occur during the holiday party season, it is arguably that time of year when most employees
could be at risk of 'enjoying' a networking or firm social event a little too much for their own
good. It's important to remember where to draw the line. "Many things can fall under the
category of 'improper conduct', depending upon the policies of the employer and the laws of
the country in which you are working," said Vickers‐Willis.
‘so it's important to know the laws, policies procedures and expectations of the place where
you're working as well as of your host in advance. Use commonsense and don't assume that
just because you hold particular opinions or beliefs, they are shared by everyone else in
attendance. If alcohol is being served, keep your intake moderate and manageable so your
judgement isn't impaired," she said.
However, Vickers‐Willis warns that not turning up to the firm Christmas function in an
attempt to bypass any awkward moments could be a career blunder in itself. "Do attend if
you can," she added. "It's a great opportunity for everyone to engage with each other in a
less structured and busy environment and build those relationships that are so important to
enjoying our time at work."
"Make sure you enjoy yourself, but also conduct yourself professionally at all times.
Although office parties are social events to reward employees and raise morale, they remain
strictly business events. Your colleagues have long memories!"
Top 8 Do’s and Don’ts for the Office Christmas Party
1. Use the office party as an excuse to blow off steam, serve a log of complaints or compare
the boss to Santa because he only works one day per year! It's still a company function, so
proper etiquette and decorum matter
2. Get into your favourite nightclub outfit for the event. Ask whether the dress is formal or
casual: the party is still a business function so conservative party clothes are a good choice
(nothing too revealing). Overall the best thing to show off is your style and good taste
3. Spend all evening talking business. You'll end up with a reputation as the office bore
4. Keep your hands to yourself. The office party is not the time to end your career with the
company by doing something inappropriate or illegal
5. Keep all conversations positive and upbeat. Don't spend the evening complaining,
bragging, correcting, whining, or ridiculing. Avoid controversial subjects or topics of
conversation (such as religion, politics, etc.)
6. Be gracious and thank co‐workers and team members for their help and hard work during
the past year. And don't even think about gossiping about others
7. Keep your drink in your left hand, so your right is dry and free to shake everyone's hand
8. Be tolerant and respectful of those who don't celebrate Christmas ‐ pick a more
appropriate time for a religious or philosophical debate
Chapter 6: Salary Survey Reveals Top Opportunities for 2009
A recent recruitment company survey has revealed that there may still be a bevy of
opportunities available for Asian lawyers looking for work in 2009.
According to the report, Chinese speaking lawyers and insolvency experts will be in
particular demand this year, with Singapore in particular focus due to the liberalisation of
the legal sector and the expansion of offshore legal markets including China.
The survey was conducted by recruitment company Robert Walters. Andrea Ross, Managing
Director in Singapore, says that only small changes can be expected in the local market at
this stage, depending on the role in question.
"There will be minimal increase in salaries for key critical positions, whilst non‐critical roles
will likely remain static,' she said.
"As headcount is expected to be tight across all sectors, more organisations will be focusing
on improvements in technology and re‐engineering processes to improve efficiency and
productivity. We have also seen an increase in contracting roles across all sectors as
companies seek to employ a flexible talent workforce to manage cost and headcount."
As expected, corporate finance and real estate have suffered the most in the private practice
sector, with the business environment affecting clients and work flow.
However, the consistent flow of legal professionals moving out of private practice in late
2008 has ensured that recruitment in the area is still ongoing for practices that have
continued to do well despite the downturn.
As a result, work ‐ especially within industries such as healthcare, energy and the
government sector ‐ is likely to remain stable in 2009 and areas that require specialised work
around intellectual property, clinical trials and regulatory laws will be in demand.
Chapter 7: Watch list – Firms to Watch in 2010
As the industry enters the New Year with a renewed sense of optimism, ALB singles out ten
firms that are set to have a big 2010. Reasons for including some firms (such as the newly
merged Norton Rose) are obvious, while the inclusion of other names on the list might be
more surprising. Yet all these firms are equally capable of distinguishing themselves through
their own unique brand, philosophy and plans for growth.
Gilbert + Tobin
Managing Partner: Danny Gilbert
Offices: Melbourne, Sydney
What's Danny Gilbert plotting for 2010?
By his own admission, Gilbert + Tobin’s managing partner always has something on the boil.
Latest plans are a new Melbourne office – the firm’s first outside of Sydney ‐ and the snaring
of prize M&A partner Peter Cook from Mallesons. G+T will no doubt be looking to grow its
revenues by more than the modest 2% it achieved in 2009. It will also be interesting to see
if the firm manages to lure across more high‐profile partners to join the likes of Cook and
banking & finance high‐flyer John Schembri. As all firms undergo wholesale renewal from
time to time, could this be the start of a new chapter for G+T as it enters its 22nd year?
Principal: Trevor Choy
This small Melbourne‐based IP firm has a fresh approach, accepting new clients only if they
have been referred by an existing client or acquaintance
Choy Lawyers’ referral‐only model is only one half of a radical new client strategy. In line
with Pareto’s Principle, also known as the “80‐20 rule”, the firm has also trimmed its client
base in order to focus more closely on its valued clients. Principal Trevor Choy is adamant
that the firm is better off without clients who are difficult to work with, do not give
adequate instructions or set unnecessary deadlines. He notes that most clients with these
behaviours were non‐referral clients – a fact which suggests that the referral rule will lead to
a better‐quality client base. This bold new approach has taken over twelve months to
implement with the final elements expected to come together early in 2010. Clients the firm
doesn’t want to retain have been informed and offered assistance with finding an
alternative legal adviser – and rival firms have apparently been rolling out the welcome mat.
It’s a strategy which will see Choy Lawyers grow through its existing core relationships, but
growth for the sake of growth is not the firm’s priority. Choy prefers not to formulate his
goals in terms of revenue‐growth targets. The quality and strength of the firm’s client base is
ultimately how its success will be measured in 2010.
Integrated Legal Holdings
Managing director: Graeme Fowler
Offices: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney (separately branded)
This listed firm made some key acquisitions in 2009 – and it’s on the lookout for more
partner firms in 2010
ILH was named the fastest‐growing firm in Australia in December’s ALB Fast 10 list, with
59% revenue growth. This listed company has the unconventional strategy of acquiring law
firms and continuing to operate them under their existing branding, which will continue in
2010. Managing director Graeme Fowler plans to recruit 15 to 20 medium‐sized firms to
the group over the next few years and there is no reason why ILH cannot continue to grow
at 2009 levels if favourable economic conditions continue. Along with its fellow listed‐firm
Slater & Gordon, ILH is fundamentally reshaping the Australian legal industry in the small‐to‐
medium size sector. Love them or loathe them, you can’t ignore them.
Chairman: Tony Ward
Offices: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
Chairman Tony Ward is on a mission to transform his firm into the premier name in the IP
space, with 2010 shaping up as a pivotal year
Already a well‐established name in the patent and trademarks space, Griffith Hack has
ambitions to build a national integrated IP legal practice and has been making solid progress.
Griffith Hack’s law practice grew by 30% last year and is tracking towards a similar result in
2010. The firm is expecting to establish a law practice in Perth this year, with Brisbane to
follow in the medium term. Chairman Tony Ward says that IP is increasingly being
recognised as a boutique space and that Griffith Hack has found it easier to attract top talent
in recent years. He notes that the firm’s unique advantage is the capacity to provide patents
and trademark attorneys in addition to legal advice, which is a complementary offering not
covered off by most other firms.
Managing director: Damian Paul
Offices: Melbourne, Dandenong, Sydney
Will the M+K juggernaut continue in 2010?
ALB Fast 10 firm M+K recorded 25% revenue growth in 2007, 20% growth in 2008 and 21%
growth in 2009. Subject to economic vicissitudes, the firm is likely to record up to 30%
growth in 2010. That’s organic growth – and M+K also has a couple of mergers in the
pipeline which could see its final growth figures exceed 40% this year. Managing director
Damian Paul attributes the firm’s success to the strength of M+K’s 2, 000‐strong client base
and its capacity to refer work with confidence within the firm. While he isn’t divulging details
of the mergers just yet, Paul expects M+K to enter two new Australian states this year.
There have been rumours of plans to float the firm, yet while Paul says that M+K is
structured to take into account this contingency, the firm does not need to raise funds and
definitely has no plans to do so in the medium term.
Managing partner: Quentin Lowcay (Abu Dhabi)
Offices: Auckland, Wellington, Abu Dhabi
Kensington Swan is is breaking new ground in Abu Dhabi, and observers in New Zealand and
Australia alike will be watching closely
Kensington Swan has been building relationships in the Gulf for over five years, but in
December they took the plunge and opened an office in Abu Dhabi, catering for locally‐
based, New Zealand and Australian companies looking to set up business in the Gulf region.
Companies looking to attract direct foreign investment out of the Gulf region and the
government sector are also being targeted, as this last sector has long been a Kensington
Swan specialty. It’s an intriguing move, particularly coming from a New Zealand firm. It is the
Australian firms which are usually in geographical expansion mode, yet Australians have
generally eschewed the Gulf for proximity reasons. Colin Biggers & Paisley is believed to be
the only other Australian/NZ firm to have a partner permanently on the ground in the region
– and that firm also has a joint venture operation in Dubai with local firm Lutfi & Co. The
Kensington Swan model, based on the competitive advantage of a NZ‐dollar cost base and
the capacity to provide quality advice in areas traditionally neglected by global firms, is one
Partner‐in‐charge: Chris Ahern
Offices: Global partnership
Look out – Jones Day is one of several international firms seeing 2010 as the year to crack
the Australian market
The four‐partner Sydney office of global firm Jones Day is expected to triple in size over the
next three years as it expands to a full‐service offering. However, partner‐in‐charge Chris
Ahern says that size is not the objective and that the firm will bide its time if necessary in its
search for top‐quality talent. Smaller size and lack of depth are frequently cited as obstacles
to taking on the Australian top‐tier, but Ahern points out that this has not stopped global
firms from winning clients from local firms in other key markets. Indeed, relative lack of
scale hasn’t been an obstacle for Australian firms in Asia. Jones Day’s Australian offering is
expected to replicate its key global strengths, including IP, M&A and competition law. Ex‐
Freehills partner Philip Hoser joined the firm in 2009 to enhance another key practice area,
insolvency & restructuring. Meanwhile, other international firms have also been active in
Australia. Shipping specialist Holman Fenwick opened a Sydney office last year and US‐based
Dorsey & Whitney also established itself ‘down under’.
Managing director: Ken Jagger
Offices: Perth, Melbourne
Balance Legal’s secondment‐only model is proving popular – after 18 months in business the
firm has already opened a second office
Balance Legal didn’t make the 2009 ALB Fast 10 because it had not been in operation long
enough to supply the revenue figures for the requisite periods. Yet the figures which Balance
Legal could furnish clearly mark it as a firm on the rise. The firm has grown from three to 20
lawyers over the past 18 months, and was tracking at over 200% revenue growth for the
first quarter of 2010, albeit from a modest base. At the heart of this growth is Balance’s
unique secondment‐only model, where lawyers are placed with clients for a fixed period.
Managing director Ken Jagger says that the model is not intended to displace traditional in‐
house lawyers or law firms, but rather to provide a cost‐effective augmentation in situations
where there is a spike in work or an unexpected shortfall in resources. By his own admission,
Jagger is surprised at how quickly clients have warmed to the idea. Balance Legal was able to
open its second office in Melbourne in September 2009, nearly two years ahead of the
managing director’s most optimistic plans. And while he doesn’t have confirmed plans for
any new offices, Jagger says that a Sydney or Brisbane office isn’t out of the question.
Managing director: Michael Bradley
Marque Lawyers has become the standard bearer for those advocating a fresh approach to
billing. Will this fledgling firm be able to continue the momentum in 2010?
Michael Bradley is still a bit miffed that he wasn’t named as one of Australia’s hottest
lawyers in last year’s ALB Hot 40 feature, but luckily he agreed to speak with us for this
article. Marque Lawyers opened its doors in August 2008 and has experienced remarkable
growth in its short lifespan, growing from four to seven partners and adding 12 lawyers to
its original five lawyer base. All of this occurred at the height of the GFC and Bradley
describes it as “exceeding wildest expectations.” Much of the growth has come from direct
referrals from existing clients and industry contacts. Bradley believes that this support has
been a response to Marque’s innovative billing concepts and a “longstanding, deep‐seated
frustration” in the market at traditional hourly‐based legal billing. Alternative billing
arrangements are not unique to Marque, but Bradley says even firms which would like to
pursue alternative systems face fundamental constraints. “In those firms, each individual in
the firm is accountable for every hour of their day. The billable hour is culturally embedded
and a fundamental part of the business model.” Bradley is looking to consolidate in 2010
and says that he’s keen for Marque Lawyers to “continue to be as annoying as we have been
in the past.”
Managing Partner (Australia): Don Boyd
Offices: Global presence
A big year lies ahead for the firm formerly known as Deacons. However, the first step in
coming to terms with the new world order will be to become accustomed to the new name
2010 will see Norton Rose Australia pursue what it calls a “headlight strategy” which
involves focussing on five areas: financial institutions, energy, infrastructure, transport and
technology. Managing partner Don Boyd says that the firm will be looking to recruit and
consolidate its talent in those areas. It is unclear what will happen to specialisations outside
the “headlights”, with Boyd saying that resources will be directed as a priority to the
headlight areas. Boyd says that full financial integration of Deacons and Norton Rose is
about “18 to 24 months away” and that the complexity of the transition to limited liability
status was proving to be challenging. However, a unified board is already in place and three
of the twelve members are Australians. The managing partner is a firm believer that the
global legal services market is consolidating, and compares the situation to Australia in the
1980s, when client demand led to formation of large national firms. “As time goes on, there
will fewer opportunities left [for mergers],” he says. Should we expect to see more
international mergers this year? “It may not play out in the short term, but it’s the right
thing for all large Australian firms,” says Boyd. “However, it’s not an easy thing to achieve –
it took us three years from making a strategic decision to actually making it happen.”
Useful Links & Resources Mentioned Within This E-Book
http://www.legaljobscentre.com – Legal Jobs Centre
http://au.legalbusinessonline.com – Australasian Legal Business
Legal Training / CPD Points:
http://www.albmasterclass.com – ALB Masterclass series
http://www.robertwalters.com.au/ - Robert Walters
http://www.dignityatwork.org/advice/what-is-bullying/ - Dignity at Work
place/ - The Boston Globe
http://www.flyingsolo.com.au – Flying Solo
http://www.cvgraduate.com – CV Graduate
http://www.hrmasia.com – Human Resources Management Asia
Other Australian Key Media Sites:
Follow ALB on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ALB_magazine