‘Back yourself’ to jump from in-house to boutique firm leadership
After serving as GC for Australia’s largest gambling company for eight years, Julian Hoskins saw an opportunity to use his skills and experience in private practice. Such a jump, he warns, is “not for the faint-hearted”.
After spending eight years as the general counsel for listed gambling company Tabcorp, Julian Hoskins (pictured) left to launch his own gambling regulation legal practice: Senet.
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Three years after launching the firm, Mr Hoskins spoke with Lawyers Weekly, noting that it was something he felt he was well positioned to do, given that as a GC, he was a buyer of legal services and had insight into what was important for in-house counsel in the gambling industry.
“Working in-house accelerates legal and commercial knowledge through working at the ‘coal face’ and understanding industry drivers, as compared to purely working on legal matters in private practice. In my opinion, this translates into valuable insights and enables a more fulsome understanding of a client’s needs,” he explained.
Making the leap into setting up your own firm, Mr Hoskins outlined, shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly and necessitates considerable strategic and commercial assessment.
“A clearly articulated strategy is fundamental so you understand what gap in the market you are going to fill, how you are going to fill it and how you will compete with existing providers. It is very important to be able to identify a point of differentiation and be clear on your value proposition,” he advised.
“What we have seen during COVID-19 is that businesses have had to pivot quickly whether it’s adapting to working from home or the nature of how businesses provide their products and services to the market.”
If you’ve got a unique selling proposition, believe you can deliver a client service better than the existing competitors, and have the support, then I’d say go for it,” Mr Hoskins surmised.
Making the move has been exceptionally rewarding, he reflected, both personally and professionally. However, he added, making this transition from in-house to boutique is “not for the faint-hearted”.
“It is essential to be tuned in to your client’s needs and actively monitoring and responding to the growth of the firm and continually developing the firm capability, infrastructure and nurturing your brand,” he warned.
There are numerous challenges to be aware of in making the jump, Mr Hoskins listed.
“It’s a big risk, especially with a young family, but if you’ve done the strategic thinking, assessed the market and have a clear value proposition then the risk lowers considerably,” he said.
“Secondly, client service delivery is one aspect of business success, but you also need capability to grow the business and brand, and this takes equally as much time. This is what a lot of practitioners overlook.
“Thirdly, you will make mistakes along the way and it’s important to learn from those and be prepared to make tough decisions.”
When asked for further advice he would offer in-house counsel considering such a move, he said: “Back yourself!
“The skills learned in an in-house role are difficult to replicate in private practice and clients are very well serviced by providers that have both commercial and industry advisory experience.”