find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Maddocks: Unconflicted, collaborative and ‘unequivocally’ Australian

Maddocks: Unconflicted, collaborative and ‘unequivocally’ Australian

Michelle Dixon

Contrary to popular belief, the internationalisation of legal services in Australia has served some domestic firms perfectly, the CEO of Maddocks has said.  

Some global BigLaw giants may be persistent in their courting of Australia’s mid-tier firms but the CEO of Maddocks believes that there will always be a place in the market for firms like hers.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly about the truth behind diminished confidence in the survivability of mid-tiers for the future, Michelle Dixon (pictured) said there was a unique value Australian firms could offer clients that the major international firms cannot. She said that foremost, mid-tiers are not limited by the conflict issues that a wide-reaching global firm almost necessarily encounters.

“Being smaller, being domestic, we have fewer conflict issues and that’s very attractive to people who actively practice in the government space,” Ms Dixon said.

During a nervous time in Australia’s mid-tier market, as firms look around to see who will lose their nerve next about going it alone, Maddocks did the opposite and announced that it would be taking on the entire Canberra office of global firm DLA Piper. 

Dropping the group of 10 fee-earners was a bold move for DLA, whose ACT-based government team were renowned sector leaders, but the legal team found themselves regularly held back from acting on matters on account of conflict issues.

“We took three partners from DLA in Canberra and they’ve only been with us for a few weeks or so but they are just a fantastic fit. They are a great team,” Ms Dixon said.

Maddocks has established offices in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. 

According to Ms Dixon, the firm’s latest coup demonstrates the unique value proposition that domestic firms are better placed to offer. She suggested that the strength of domestic mid-tiers is closely connected to the firm’s capacity to respond to client needs with flexibility and collaboration.

“I think we’ve been the beneficiary of the internationalisation of the market. We’re finding that it’s much easier for us to attract fantastic partners from some of the larger firms.

“If you become part of an international, chances are you’re not dictating your own destiny as an Australian office in the same way that you did,” she said.

“And we have clients coming to Maddocks because we’re not interested in some of the rigidity that you get at some of the larger firms or the international firms.”

As more global firms acquire domestic stalwarts, just like the recent example of Henry Davis York announcing its tie-up with Norton Rose Fulbright, Ms Dixon observed that the remaining mid-tiers have more room to offer flexible option to clients.  

She further remarked that mid-tier law firms with a culture of being agile and collaborative would improve their ability to respond to the various market pressures.

“We’re not highly bureaucratic and we don’t require partners to meet a whole range of criteria in order to deliver the services in the way that they want,” Ms Dixon said.

“What that means is that our lawyers can be quite entrepreneurial. Because there are no shackles holding them from doing either what they want to do or to work with clients how clients want.”

Referring to the equal profit-share partnership structure at Maddocks, she added that the firm was also able to offer the best services for the lowest price.

“There’s nothing in our remuneration structure that is a disincentive to ensure that the right person is looking after the client,” Ms Dixon said.

“We’re nimble and we really let our partners run their own practices without putting huge levels of controls on them so that they can respond to the market quickly,” she said.

The Maddocks CEO said that looking closely at the numbers will reveal that some mid-tier firms are far more profitable than their BigLaw counterparts.

“We’ve had 8 per cent revenue growth this year and we expect we’ll have at least 10 per cent revenue growth next year. We’re stronger than we’ve ever been,” Ms Dixon said.

And if there was any uncertainty about whether Maddocks was entertaining the idea of merging with a global in the near future, the CEO was quick to dismiss the suggestion.

“We are very proudly a domestic firm, we have no desire to be an international firm and we’re unequivocal about that. There is no ambiguity about that.

“We will continue to look at bringing people in who are aligned with our strategy and aligned with our culture, but merger is not something that we’re interested in,” Ms Dixon said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Maddocks: Unconflicted, collaborative and ‘unequivocally’ Australian
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...