Kell Moore Solicitors was established in 1881 by Colonel J Wilkinson, who was later elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and who become an advocate for federation. The firm has now grown to employ 17 full-time, six part-time and one casual staff member, including three principals, 10 lawyers and two consultants. Since 2000, the size of the firm in terms of professional staffing numbers has effectively doubled.
Andrew Price, who works as an associate, says the attraction of three key professional staff members has been the most important highlight for the firm over the past year.
"The significance is that Kell Moore now has five lawyers under 35 years of age. This not only secures the succession of the firm moving forward, but it provides assurance to our clients that the relationships that have been built over many years will continue into the future," he says.
As experienced by most professional services firms, Price says the attraction and retention of quality staff to a regional area is a "considerable issue". He says the firm's commitment to nurturing talent is cemented through factors such as continued development and flexible work practices, which helps in providing a positive working environment.
"We try to be as flexible as possible with the working conditions for our lawyers. Some work part-time and others work a nine-day fortnight," he says.
"Our staff undertake such learning and development as postgraduate study in specialty areas of law, accredited specialisation courses, on-the-job mentoring by senior lawyers and senior support staff, rotation programs through our key practice areas for graduate lawyers and various continuous learning education courses."
Historically, the firm had a commercial focus, but now also practices in property and development, building and construction, wills and estate, family law, alternative dispute resolution, sports law and water law.
"It is essential in regional areas for all firms to be proactive in their approach to service the needs of clients. For example, it has been important for our firm to stay on top of water law issues as this area of law is constantly evolving and has significant potential growth in the long term," Price says.
Over the last decade, their local government and planning practice area has also grown considerably, to the point where at least four lawyers undertake the work, says Price. Also, given that the firm is located on the border of NSW and Victoria, lawyers are required to be across laws in both state jurisdictions, he adds.
While Price says the current economic climate has had a "minimal effect" on the firm, it has been essential to explore new markets and business opportunities.
"The slowing economy has also forced us to look at the way we do things in terms of client service, marketing and management, and reviewing our internal processes. This has been useful for us to identify new ways in which we can better service our clients and ultimately improve the profitability of the business," he says.
In regards to working in a regional area, Price says there is a perception that the same opportunities do not exist as those provided in the city.
"We consider there to be some great opportunities for lawyers in terms of financial reward and experience in regional areas, particularly in light of the ageing demographic of lawyers, which seems to be quite prominent in regional areas," he says.
"Decentralisation of business away from the CBD areas of capital cities provides regional firms with an excellent opportunity, given the proximity, to best service these potential clients."
By Sarah Sharples
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