A team of partners has broken away from law firm Piper Alderman to open a new firm in Adelaide this week.
KJK Legal will focus on workers compensation for self insurers in the South Australian market.
The new firm is being spearheaded by former Piper Alderman partners Mark Keam, Tracey Kerrigan and Neville John, who will be directors of the new firm. The partners names form the firm's acronym title.
Keam told The New Lawyer the ex-Piper lawyers did this type of work at their former firm and "several people had the same thought at the same time to open a new firm. It seemed like a natural progression".
The firm will abandon time-based billing and Keam says the reduced overheads will ensure better value for clients.
A number of former clients, including Self Insurers Association of South Australia", will follow the partners to KJK Legal. Piper Alderman will keep certain clients who are broader clients, and need more general advice, said Keam.
Niche practice areas are the best option for lawyers wanting to break away from a larger firm, argues Keam.
"We're not the firm to have done it. Workers compensation and areas like that don't necessarily fit in the big firm model.
"You've got these hourly rates, which makes it difficult to remain as a profit centre in the big firm model. It was a logical progression to move to a model where there are lower rates and lower overheads," he said.
Clients will see better value as a result of using a smaller firm, Keam said. "We are coming away from supportive offices with varying rates of pay and high rental. Here we're only operating in South Australia, with no broader overheads. It allows us to keep things under control."
KJK Legal will continue to use Piper Alderman for services such as administration and marketing, as they are needed. The "more modest" offices of the new firm will include the three directors, two consultants (John Hiatt and Carmel Preece, also from Piper Aldermna), and an administration manager.
The new venture has received full support of Piper Alderman, Keam told The New Lawyer. He said the various former partners and lawyers have known each other a long time, and many were at university together, "so there's a fair bit of history between us, which makes the transition easier".
Keam said that KJK Legal will do workers compensation work in South Australia only at this point, there is an intention is to transfer work between the two firms. "There'll be a mutual referral of work," he said.
KJK Legal is located at 157 Grenfell Street, Adelaide.