A LONG and profitable relationship at Gadens Lawyers Victoria has come to an end, with Grant Dixon resigning from his position as managing director late last year.
Dixon, who has been with the firm for almost six years, said his decision was a timely one, and that he was ready to seek out new challenges.
In a firm-wide email, he said: “I need challenges to keep me going and Gadens was just performing way too well for me to have the type of issues and challenges I enjoy meeting”.
When Dixon joined Gadens, the Melbourne office was turning over $23 million at 9 per cent profitability. “Five years later it will be hitting $50 million at 45 per cent profitability,” he told Lawyers Weekly.
“It has been running at about 45 per cent profitability for the last three years and in fact, the first year it jumped up from 9 per cent to 33 per cent.
“It’s very hard to walk away from the rewards of the success, which is probably why I stayed so long … but I’m not a maintenance man.”
Dixon, who has been a business consultant to law firms for 20 years, said he intended to return to his consultancy practice once he had worked with the board to find his replacement. He will remain with the firm until June this year.
Gadens Lawyers chairman Nick Stretch sent an email to the firm announcing Dixon’s resignation late last year. He said the “organisational transformation” wrought by Dixon and his team had “underpinned the success of the firm”.
“Nor has Grant’s contribution to Gadens been confined to the Melbourne office. It is more than coincidental that all Gadens offices are performing at record levels. Grant’s indirect influence has been a major factor contributing to this success in other offices.”
Dixon will not leave the firm alone. David Stevens, Gadens’ chief operating officer in Melbourne and national information technology manager, has worked with Dixon for 15 years and will join him on his new venture, as will two or three other members of the management team. But the firm will remain in good stead.
“Melbourne is now the largest office and clearly … the most profitable,” Dixon said. “The Melbourne equity partners, we have been told, are arguably the most profitable in Australia at the moment.
“Most of the 100 per cent equity partners have been earning $1 million for the last two or three years, and some well over a million.”
Dixon said his model was focused on the decision making process in law firms, and working on specific systems that focus on growth requirements.
“A lot of the concepts of the model aren’t exactly new in the industry, everybody knows the right things that a law practice should be doing to get the best out of it. However, it’s understanding how to actually make that work,” he said.
“My model takes away the hard things partners have to do.” The management team conducts staff performance appraisals, selection and recruitment in accordance with the business model. In order to work, the system has to have “full buy in” and trust from the partners.
Dixon said the benefits were not only the performance and growth model practices, but the fact that partners had more time to “focus on networking and bringing work in, and getting work done”.