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What makes a good leader in law?

Effective leaders possess diverse qualities and skills that allow them to guide, manage and inspire their teams. Here, a director offers valuable insights on what it takes to excel as a leader in the legal profession.

user iconEmma Musgrave 02 April 2024 Big Law
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The responsibility of being a leader in law is not lost on Madison Marcus director Benoir Bayssari.

In a recent conversation on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Bayssari outlined how his start in law taught him a lot about the type of leader he hoped to become.

“To be honest, when I was studying at uni, I was doing a law and a science degree because I wanted to be a dentist because my dad was, and then law was the fallback job in case I didn’t pass the GAMSAT to get into dentistry. But I ended up doing the GAMSAT, got the dentistry offer and then decided to speak to my dad about it. My dad talked me out of it and said, ‘You don’t want to be a dentist, go do law’. So, I ended up staying in law,” he explained.


“I think once I made the decision to stay in law, I then got a bit more ambitious in the role and wanted to start moving up the ranks, whereas in my early days, I was just happy to come to work, get paid, learn about how the office culture is, and learn about working a nine-to-five job more than anything.

“And then it was really once I decided to do law permanently that I just really wanted to move up the ranks and become a leader in the profession.”

This passion and ambition paid off for Bayssari, who has spent the last 11 years at Madison Marcus, quickly becoming a partner before moving into the director role he holds now.

During this time, he’s developed a philosophy about what makes a good leader in law.

“I think you’ve got to be approachable. I think you need to be able to have time for the people who work with you,” he said.

“The reason that I was able to develop was because all my supervising partners and directors at the time had an open-door policy. You could approach them with any queries you had, whether it was in respect to a specific file at work or whether it was in general legal questions or career development.

“I found that to be the most helpful thing in progressing, and obviously, when I was a junior, I wanted to do everything that I found helped me as I moved forward.”

Like others, the pandemic posed some of, if not the most significant, challenges many leaders have had to grapple with. Bayssari said he wasn’t immune to this and had to adapt his leadership style accordingly – something he noted has been valuable for his own development as well as the development of his team.

“Obviously, when the first lockdown happened, it was a big shock to everyone. There were positives and negatives [that] came out of it. I guess the positives were that it broke the stigma from, ‘You can’t work from home’ and introduced the concept of flexible working,” he explained.

“But I also found it did tend to stifle the development of staff. So as soon as we could come back in, we were keen to do that. Because I think when we were working remotely, we were doing everything by phone calls and Zoom, which doesn’t really have the same impact on development as it does when you’re sitting across from someone at the office or someone walks in and you have an actual face-to-face conversation with them.”

This mantra of “as soon as we could get back, we got back” has worked out well for Bayssari and his team.

“We still keep flexible working as an option, but my advice to everyone coming up is that if you can work in the office, you should for your own good because that’s where you’re going to learn the most,” he said.

“And if you’re sitting at home, while you can do work and while you can be efficient, you’re not going to get the same development that other people are if they’re in there getting the hands-on leadership that I received when I was coming through.”

To listen to the full episode with Benoir Bayssari, click below:

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