find the latest legal job
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
Insurance Lawyer (1 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Great Career Opportunity ·
View details
Insurance and Health Lawyer (1-4 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· New position to support Growth ·
View details
In-house redundancies test Perth firms

In-house redundancies test Perth firms


A cull of Perth-based corporate lawyers is changing the way firms work with resources clients.

In-house legal teams in the mining and engineering sectors have been hit with redundancies following last year’s dramatic decline in commodity prices, according to Jenny Thornton, the head of Clyde & Co’s Perth office.

In some cases the instructing counsel role has been assumed by the chief financial officer or other executive who may not be across a particular matter or who may lack the legal acumen of an in-house lawyer, Ms Thornton told Lawyers Weekly. This has created challenges in the way the firms deal with resources clients.

“It’s been quite confronting for us to lose colleagues at our clients and knowing they’re looking for a job,” she said.

“Someone has to pick up the management of a claim or a proceeding, yet they won’t have all the background [including] the legal and the corporate knowledge of why the organisation made a decision to run with a matter or to settle it.

“You’re also losing someone who understands the legal process and … why you have to brief counsel, and why you have to do discovery, and what discovery means.”

The redundancies in Western Australia are a direct result of major exploration projects being put on hold or dumped as low commodity prices slash the value of planned projects by billions.

K&L Gates’ Perth-based partner Simon Salter told Lawyers Weekly that cost-cutting by resources clients and poor investor sentiment has had a significant impact on all legal practices in the state.

“You have a situation where companies have come to the realisation that they have to get their house in order … and think about whether they can realistically bring a particular mine into production that they’ve had on the books for years,” Mr Salter said.

He has observed a decline in corporate advisory work, which he said clients view as discretionary expenditure that has been deferred until “the sun shines again”.

“Clients are now looking after their own quasi-legal issues more than they did, or are not investing in external counsel.”

Meanwhile, other practices have been thriving on legal work arising from the challenging conditions.

For K&L Gates, its workplace relations practice has been busy dealing with labour issues emerging from company restructures.

At Clyde & Co, litigation and insurance work has increased in line with claims connected to terminated contracts and adjudications under the Construction Contracts Act.

Contractors are lodging most claims, many of which are being disputed; however, contractors, such as engineers, are also under scrutiny now that many projects no longer face time pressures, according to Clyde & Co senior associate Tim Searle.

“We’ve gone from a situation where every day a project fell behind, that could be millions in lost production,” said the Perth-based Mr Searle.

“That’s no longer the case and the focus has shifted away from getting things finished within a timeframe to whether it was done properly.”

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

In-house redundancies test Perth firms
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Please, Continue (Hamlet), Melbourne Festival
Oct 16 2017
Hamlet suffers slings and arrows of top Victorian barristers
Victorian judges and barristers have performed the unique play Please, Continue (Hamlet) at the Melb...
Julian Assange
Oct 13 2017
When justice fails, according to Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has dismissed the capacity of judicial systems to deal with complex...
Aussie anti-terrorism laws, detention of 10-year-olds
Oct 13 2017
Treatment of kids under Aussie anti-terrorism laws an over-reach: ABA
The Australian Bar Association has urged the government to reconsider proposed reforms to Australian...
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 & ...