LAWYERS ARE now seeking to advance their careers with moves to, rather than away from, Brisbane, according to local practitioners.
“These are exciting times,” Andrew Rentoul, corporate and commercial partner at Minter Ellison, said. “Brisbane is no longer just a lifestyle choice. It’s a career choice.”
Patrick McGrath, staff partner at mid-tier firm McInnes Wilson, believes “Brisbane is a fantastic alternative for interstate practitioners”.
“There’s a perception of previous limitations of working in the Brisbane legal market, and I refer to big deals not being done in this state,” McGrath said. “I think that perception is disappearing.”
Minters’ human resources director, Rolf Moses, said that change in perception is causing more young lawyers to stay loyal to Brisbane, while attracting others who want to advance their careers.
“It used to be the perception of young lawyers that in order to get exposure to the biggest clients, and best deals, they would have to leave Brisbane and move to Sydney or Melbourne,” Moses said. “We are now seeing the reverse; people are coming to Brisbane from interstate and overseas because of the quality of work and lifestyle.”
And the benefits are not just being enjoyed by the big national firms either.
“From a talent perspective, the legal market in Brisbane is win-win at the moment,” Moses said. “There is significant quality work on, which means lawyers get first-class experience along with the many lifestyle advantages of living in Queensland.”
McGrath said that he could not recall losing any McInnes Wilson staff to southern firms recently, certainly not in the last few years. And all three agreed the old southern criticism that Brisbane is nothing more than a ‘big country town’ is more outdated than ever.
In fact, according to Rentoul, “in every walk of life Brisbane has come of age”.
McGrath pointed to the ease of living in a city with far cheaper housing prices and quality schools, not to mention city streets free from the typical Sydney and Melbourne peak hour traffic.
“I live in a beautiful, leafy suburb. If I drive out of my driveway at seven, I’m pulling into the car park at five past seven,” McGrath said. “And that’s not uncommon.”
The boom in the economy coupled with a marked increase in mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure development and a business focus on the use of water have seen players in the Brisbane legal market benefit enormously, according to Rentoul.
“The Queensland legal market on the whole is going from strength to strength, and for good reasons. It is a reflection of the strength of the Queensland economy and confidence generally,” he said. “M&A is booming right around Australia, and Queensland is no exception.
“There is a lot of discussion about relatively strong population growth being a powerful driver of activity, but there are other fundamentals at play, some of which are related to, and some independent of, that population growth, including commodity prices and export markets, investment in private and public infrastructure and utilities, and the availability and cost of debt and investment funding,” Rentoul said.