find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
In-house lawyer 1-4 PAE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Leading Brand · Report to a Dynamic Legal Counsel
View details
ABL rejects 'growth for growth's sake'

ABL rejects 'growth for growth's sake'

Johnathon Wenig

Two-office firm Arnold Bloch Leibler has doubled its revenue over the past decade without significantly changing its head count.

Arnold Bloch Leibler won the title of Australian Law Awards Law Firm of the Year in 2004 – submissions for this year’s awards are currently open.

Eleven years on, ABL head of commercial and corporate Jonathan Wenig (pictured) said the firm has stayed true to its original vision of being a small but high-quality provider.

“We have basically the same head count we had 10 years ago, but our revenue has more than doubled,” he told Lawyers Weekly. “We've never wanted growth for growth's sake.” 

ABL has 35 partners spread over two cities – Melbourne, where the firm was founded in 1964, and Sydney, where ABL opened in 2002. However, Mr Wenig ruled out the possibility of future expansion.

“I can say categorically we won't be opening new offices,” he said. “We'll continue to work out of Melbourne and Sydney.”

Instead, he said the firm’s growth plans were focused on acquiring top-tier work more usually associated with national or global firms.

“Our focus has been on quality – we don't want all your work, we want the work where we can add value. That strategy has served us well, because it's meant the types of matters we've been involved in have been the transformational acquisitions, or the regulatory investigations, where the company's lifeline is at stake.”

In addition, he suggested being a low-leverage firm with a high partner-to-lawyer ratio was attractive to clients.

Mr Wenig has been at ABL for more than 20 years and believes the legal profession has changed dramatically in that time.

“The headline-grabbing stuff has been the internationalisation of law firms. The next few years will continue to be interesting – some of the tie-ups we've seen will succeed and some will not.”

He acknowledged there were some matters where ABL would not be able to compete with its global rivals: “if you want 400 lawyers to do a large acquisition or a piece of litigation, we don't have 400 lawyers that can do that.”

However, he suggested ABL was able to draw on informal networks for high-volume work, referring some matters to mid-tier firms while servicing the client on complex issues.

Similarly, he said the firm relied on international networks to assist clients overseas, touting the firm’s independence to choose its own referral partners rather than being tied to formal global network.

Reflecting on the past, he suggested ABL had thrived on home-grown talent and tightly woven client relationships.

“What we've been successful at over decades is growing our own talent rather than hiring it laterally. We have invested heavily in client relationships that are deep and long and strong. Those two things have served us in good stead.”



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

ABL rejects 'growth for growth's sake'
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
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 & ...