INNOVATION ACROSS every facet of the firm is the mandate for incoming Minter Ellison managing partner in Sydney, Andrew Cunningham.
Upon assuming his post in the new year, Cunningham hopes to build on the existing platform by encouraging staff to be smarter about the way they operate.
“It’s really promoting a culture of challenging the way we do things. It’s an overarching approach, not a particular innovation that I have in mind,” he said.
To facilitate these improvements, Cunningham plans to establish a forum, and a culture, that challenges “the way things are done, to see if they can be done better”.
“And that goes for everything: the service that we deliver to our clients, the way we interact with our clients, the way that we organise the work that we do … across the whole firm, through practice areas, through support areas and so on.”
Having been with the firm nearly 19 years, Cunningham went straight from university to start at Minters as a summer clerk.
“Initially I was going to be a banking and finance lawyer, but ultimately, pretty early on, I went down the track of becoming a human resources and industrial relations lawyer, which is what I’ve been ever since,” he said.
He rose to the position of partner in 1994, eventually leading the firm’s HR and IR practice in Sydney. Chief executive Guy Templeton said Cunningham was well qualified to take charge of one of Minters’ largest offices.
“In a very competitive market, [Cunningham] has led and grown our Sydney HR and IR practice into one of the most successful practice areas for the firm in that city,” Templeton said.
“He has an astute understanding of what clients want, knows how to run a business and has a passion for innovation — in how we do things internally and how we work with clients. These are skills that will stand him in good stead in his new role and I look forward to working with him as part of Minter Ellison’s management team.”
Speaking of outgoing managing partner Alan McArthur, who retires at year’s end, Cunningham considers himself “very fortunate in that I’m inheriting an office which is in great shape. It’s really about continuing to get as much out of ourselves as possible.”
Templeton too paid tribute to McArthur’s contribution to the Sydney office during his seven-year tenure as managing partner.
“[McArthur] has overseen the continued growth and development of one of our key offices and has also made an important contribution to the firm as a whole — not only as one of our managing partners, but also through his involvement in various shared services groups and national initiatives,” Templeton said.
“He leaves us at a time of record performance. The partnership acknowledges and thanks him for the very important role he has played.”
Another high-profile lawyer to be promoted last week was Michael Rose of Allens Arthur Robinson, who had been partner at the firm since 1994.
Now serving as the executive partner of the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution team, Rose is due to replace current managing partner Tom Poulton, who will end his term on 1 July 2007.
Chairman of Allens, Jim Thynne, said that “in his executive roles with the firm and in the conduct of his very successful practice, [Rose] has demonstrated the qualities of an outstanding leader”.
“I know that he will bring to this new and crucial role the spirit of collegiality and inclusiveness to which we at [Allens] aspire, as well as the benefits of remarkable vitality, wit and ability to engage with people from all walks of life.”
“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to lead our great firm,” Rose said. “I am looking forward to working with our clients and my colleagues to ensure that the firm continues to play a leading role in the legal profession in Australia and Asia.”