DLA PHILLIPS FOX has maintained its reputation for granting partnership at a relatively young age with the promotion of one young female in its ranks to partner at the age of 33.
In an interview with Lawyers Weekly’s sister magazine for law students, Lawyer2B, newly appointed partner at DLA Phillips Fox, Fleur Gibbons, this week offered an in-depth report on what it takes to make partner at such an age, as she did six months ago.
As reported by Lawyers Weekly late last year, Phillips Fox has traditionally been a firm that offers partnership to lawyers at an average age of 33, five years younger than most law firms. According to results of the Lawyers Weekly Partnership Review survey, the average age for lawyers to be given the keys to the partnership is now just shy of their 38th birthday.
The quickest route to partnership is at both Henry Davis York and Phillips Fox, where the average age of new partners is 33. Gibbons said in an exclusive interview that she doesn’t see this as a young age to make partner, but referred to the fact that it is a quick career progression since her articles at the firm in 2000. “So that tends to be where people focus, rather than on my age. Thirty-three is good, but it’s not all that unusual I suppose,” she said.
On how to expedite a career through a law firm, Gibbons told Lawyer2B that she did two years at a court before she did her articles, “which gave me a significant advantage”.
“I did two years as a judicial researcher at the County Court. I think it helped not having the same temporal pressures that you get in private practice, particularly working with the judges who are so dedicated to mentoring junior practitioners. It was a great opportunity to hone some skills in practice and get a sense of what the practice of the law was all about before I actually came [to DLA Phillips Fox, then Phillips Fox] and kicked off my practice,” Gibbons said.
This experience has given Gibbons the insight to be more discerning about choosing both a firm that would be a good fit for her, as well as particular practice areas in which she was interested in working, she said. “I would encourage most lawyers to look for those things, because it really does engender the enthusiasm for practice that means you make the most of every opportunity. You don’t see the hard work as being hard work because you are having a good time at the same time.”
On what it takes to be a partner, Gibbons said there had been few surprises, but attributed this to the preparedness and patience of the firm, which she said gave her ample time to think through the transition she was about to make. “I think for me there have been relatively few surprises and I think that is in part due to the fact that the firm puts a huge amount of work into ensuring that the expectations for new partners are clearly conveyed,” she said.