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
Retention vital for firms in booming Brisbane

Retention vital for firms in booming Brisbane

WITH THE legal industry in Brisbane hotting up, firms are increasingly wary of keeping junior lawyers challenged and motivated.As Lawyers Weekly reported last week, the Queensland capital is…

WITH THE legal industry in Brisbane hotting up, firms are increasingly wary of keeping junior lawyers challenged and motivated.

As Lawyers Weekly reported last week, the Queensland capital is seeing huge growth, particularly in energy and resources and infrastructure.

And as demand grows for experienced practitioners, both from national and foreign firms alike, it has never been more important to foster a strong sense of loyalty in lower level staff.

Establishing a healthy firm culture and opportunities for client and partner contact are common strategies employed to retain senior associates. But in a competitive market such as Brisbane, it is becoming more important to stand out from the crowd.

Partner Damien Clarke, head of McCullough Robertson’s business division, said strong growth and competition in the market has compelled his firm to work hard to keep its junior staff satisfied.

“We have recognised that for a little while now, and we’ve worked really hard to establish programs focusing on staff retention generally,” he said. “But in that pocket, two to three years post admission, we really have emphasised that of late.”

McCullough Robertson has introduced a loyalty program, rewarding those who stay with the firm for five years with financial incentives, additional leave, and a number of other perks.

But before that point is reached, the firm sets development plans for younger lawyers, to provide clearly defined goals to work towards.

“We really work hard, in those early days, to negotiate and organise an individual development plan for lawyers so that we understand what their expectations are, and we deliver on those expectations, dependant of course on performance,” Clarke said.

Allowing senior associates a leading role in major projects, with the support of partners, is another means of keeping them happy, along with a culture supported at all levels, Clarke said.

Firm culture is just as vital at rival McInnes Wilson. As staff partner, Patrick McGrath is responsible for monitoring the happiness of the firm’s lawyers, and he is aware of increasing disenchantment of junior lawyers who work for national firms.

McGrath said culture is so important at McInnes Wilson that those who don’t actively support it might be shown the door, regardless of their ability.

“To be blunt, if we’ve got people who don’t fit in with our culture, even if they’re fantastic performers, we would rather take a long-term view,” McGrath said.

“Even if it means some short-term pain, we know that long term, if that relationship is not going to work out, then we won’t foster that relationship.”

McGrath said McInnes Wilson has an advantage over the national firms in that its culture is not weighted down with too many layers of management. It also allows the partners to expose their younger staff to a greater level of client contact.

“We think it’s important that they develop relationships with clients, rather than the relationship being completely controlled by partners,” he said. “That way they feel some ownership with the client, and ownership with the process.”

To foster this approach to servicing clients, the firm places a heavy emphasis on relationship training.

“We do some training that is not just about being a lawyer,” he said. “There are people who are good black letter lawyers, [but] the real key, we think, is finding people who are able to build relationships.”

Minter Ellison’s human resources director, Rolf Moses, said the firm has designed a system that allows younger lawyers to transfer within its Australian offices, should they want to be involved in transactions in different states.

“Minter Ellison actively advertises vacant spots in its offices, and engages in an internal recruitment process to fill those positions,” Moses said.

This system even allows transfers to Minters’ international offices, such as Hong Kong and San Francisco, and a number from the Brisbane office have done just that in recent years.

But according to Moses, growth in the Brisbane market has seen the city become an attractive option for younger lawyers, not only due to career opportunities, but competitive salaries as well.

“The Brisbane market is seeing a closer alignment of salaries with Sydney and Melbourne, particularly at the senior associate level,” Moses said. “For more senior lawyers, the old situation where you had to drop back in salary when you moved from say, Sydney to Brisbane, is becoming a thing of the past.”

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

Retention vital for firms in booming Brisbane
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA applauds proposed Modern Slavery Act
The Law Council of Australia has welcomed new recommendations for the development of a Modern Slaver...
Top-tier offers targeted mentoring for Indigenous law students
Students at Macquarie University will be the first to benefit from a new Indigenous mentoring progra...
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...
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 & ...