find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Exclusive: Ex-large law partners launch start-up

Exclusive: Ex-large law partners launch start-up

Corporate partners from Minter Ellison and DLA Piper have launched a new firm that does away with high overheads, billable hours and the culture of self-interest found in large law firms.

Speaking exclusively to Lawyers Weekly, Mitzi Gilligan (pictured), one of the founders of the new firm called Hive Legal, said she decided to leave Minters because she wanted to establish a firm that “challenges the status quo”.

“With Hive, I was excited by the opportunity to start with a clean slate and design a law firm specifically for the contemporary legal market, which is undergoing fundamental changes.”

Gilligan had been a partner in Minters’ commercial and regulatory team in Melbourne for more than 13 years. She co-founded Hive with Simon Davidson, an equity capital markets, M&A and private equity partner at DLA Piper. Davidson had also worked with Gilligan at Minters from 2000 to 2008.

The new firm is headed up by managing director Jodie Baker, who had been working on the business model for two years prior to approaching Gilligan and Davidson. The firm is also bringing on additional principals, with an announcement expected in March.

Hive is a “virtual firm”, said Gilligan, explaining that while the firm has an office at 50 Market St in Melbourne, its lawyers will be able to extensively work remotely.

“They can work from home, they can work from client spaces, they can work from the beach house if they want; as long as they meet client requirements we won’t expect them to be in the office all the time,” she added.

Reducing overheads, which can translate into lower fees for clients, is one benefit of this flexible business model. Gilligan also claimed that working at a large law firm is unsustainable for many lawyers, herself included, who are trying to find work-life balance.

“We’re hoping to be able to offer a more sustainable option ... giving experienced lawyers the opportunity to work more flexibly,” she said.

Another feature of Hive that differentiates it from large law firms is its willingness to refer work to other firms and organisations, continued Gilligan. The principals are currently in discussions with small and large law firms, members of the Bar, consultants and non-legal businesses such as LPO providers, to build a network of allies. Hive will send work their way if a client requests it or if a principal decides the firm is not the most suitable service provider for a particular job.

 “We will be able to pick apart [a client’s] requirements and make sure we pull in the best resources from our network, rather than the traditional model where the firm does everything, whether or not they’re the best at it,” said Gilligan.

She added that while Hive is not currently in talks with Minters, “that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use them if the opportunity came up”.

Hive already has a number of big-name clients on its books. Gilligan would not name them but did reveal that the firm will be targeting corporate and government clients, “the same sort of client base that the big firms work for”.

 

Billing burdens

Like a number of other start-ups, Hive offers clients value pricing. Gilligan said she is an advocate of fixed fees, but admitted that if a client insists on time billing the firm would accommodate them.

“We’re keen on getting rid of hourly billing ... I think it rewards the wrong things.

“We want to move towards value pricing, which will reward efficiency and outcomes rather than how long it takes to do something.”

Gilligan claimed time billing is an attribute of large law firms that is preventing the bigger end of town from adapting to the new legal landscape.

“[Large firms] have their reward and recognition systems very deeply embedded in the whole concept of time recording and hourly billing and it is very hard for them to break away from that infrastructure,” she added.

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

Exclusive: Ex-large law partners launch start-up
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Law Council of Australia
Nov 21 2017
LCA calls for urgent adoption of ‘game-changing’ recommendation
The Law Council of Australia has urged for the immediate adoption of a key recommendation put forwar...
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...