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
Top tier defends use of juniors

Top tier defends use of juniors

THE USE of juniors to do the “grunt work” on major transactions is essential to the operations of large firms, according to top-tier sources responding to recent claims that…

THE USE of juniors to do the “grunt work” on major transactions is essential to the operations of large firms, according to top-tier sources responding to recent claims that assistants are being used unnecessarily in such matters.

Michael Lishman, former national head of M&A at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, raised the issue last week in The Australian Financial Review, claiming that top-tier firms were over-using junior lawyers and that disgruntled clients, surprised on receiving their bills, were “pushing back”.

Lishman and top Mallesons partner Ian Cochrane have left the firm to set up their own boutique M&A firm in Perth.

However, “staffing has obviously got to be appropriate for the matter that you’re talking about,” said David Fagan, chief executive partner of Clayton Utz. “Some smaller matters will not require more than the partner’s own involvement, but there will be other matters — major matters — where it would actually be negligent if you didn’t have far more staff on it, to service it properly and to discharge your obligations as a lawyer.”

“There’s also the flip side, that clients are sophisticated and sometimes they will elect not to have tasks done or not have certain levels of people involved,” Fagan said. “That’s fine — clients can make commercial decisions to do that — but we’ve certainly seen in some circumstances where people limit the role, there can be quite serious consequences. The job is not done to the correct standard, issues aren’t identified. I’ve seen projects where due diligence is very much circumscribed.”

However, a majority of clients know what they are looking for and would not want to cut corners, Fagan added. “I do know that a large bulk of our client base — and I would expect it would be the same for other [large firms] — that when they’re doing major transactions they will want the very best people, and as many as they can get, to be deployed on their matter.”

Many smaller firms find it difficult to take on this type of work, Fagan said, because they lack the necessary resources or sometimes the talent.

David McClune, director of marketing and client services at Allens Arthur Robinson, agreed, adding that Lishman and Cochrane’s new firm faces an interesting challenge: “Two partners and three senior lawyers — well, who’s actually going to do the due diligence on major M&A deals? One assumes that as partners, they’re going to be doing a lot of low level work associated with big transactions and primarily due diligence, so I find that curious. Clients won’t be paying for a partner to do basic due diligence.”

McClune dismissed the idea that there were rumblings among top-tier clients about the over-use of juniors. “To the contrary, if a matter is over-partnered then the client starts to complain because they’re paying higher rates,” he said.

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

Top tier defends use of juniors
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
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 & ...