find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Start-ups keeping large law honest

Start-ups keeping large law honest

A partner at TressCox Lawyers who has just launched a boutique firm told Lawyers Weekly that start-ups led by ex-large law partners will keep big firm fees in check.

A partner at TressCox Lawyers who has just launched a boutique firm told Lawyers Weekly that start-ups led by ex-large law partners will keep big firm fees in check.

TressCox partners Alfonso Grillo (pictured) and Garrick Higgins have co-founded a new firm called GrilloHiggins, which officially opened its doors yesterday (2 June). The Melbourne firm will focus on the partners’ existing M&A, capital markets, corporate advisory and energy & resources practices.

Grillo and Higgins worked together at TressCox for more than 15 years. They have brought across two lawyers, senior associate Tony Petani and associate Eli Davis-Ross, to the new firm, along with their “supportive” clients, said Grillo.

GrilloHiggins is the latest in a series of boutique firms that have been been set up by mid-tier or large law partners.

In May, Tony O’Malley and Tim Blue, two big fish who held leadership roles at King & Wood Mallesons, launched Sydney boutique LCR Advisory. A few months earlier two corporate partners from Minter Ellison and DLA Piper co-founded ‘virtual firm’ Hive Legal and, late last year, a legal veteran from CBP Lawyers started Melbourne-based White & Mason.

Grillo commented that the trend will continue, adding that boutique firms “keep larger firms honest in terms of being competitive”.


The new deal

Despite the founders of these new firms coming from large law environments, the smaller start-ups are jettisoning much of the rusted-on pillars of the large law firm model.

In particular, value pricing is replacing the billable hour.

Grillo said he started GrilloHiggins to move away from traditional billing methods, which can “provide uncertainty and reward inefficiency”.

“I wanted to offer [clients] greater ... cost certainty, value pricing and risk-sharing arrangements,” he explained.

Grillo added that billing methods had moved to the forefront of his discussions with clients, many of whom were frustrated with large law’s inflexibility when it comes to pricing.

“The nature of legal practice is changing from time billing,” he said.

“We’re being encouraged to adopt more risk sharing and fixed-fee arrangements, and that doesn’t necessarily reflect how a larger firm wants to operate.”


The cost of technology

Working against the clients of firms that use time billing is the prevalence of email, according to Grillo.

He said firms regularly exceed budgetary expectations when there are multiple lawyers working on a matter who are all billing the client to review the same email correspondence.

“When you record each email as a unit and there are multiple readers of that email across a firm, all of a sudden things can get well and truly out of hand without the client appreciating that’s what’s occurring,” he said.

While Grillo admitted that his firm will default to time billing on some matters, his aim is to ensure all fees reflect the value given to clients. He cited fixed fees and component pricing as models he is “not shirking away from”.

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

Start-ups keeping large law honest
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
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'...
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...
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 & ...