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
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Top-tier exit for small clients

Top-tier exit for small clients

IN YET another example of the increasingly rapid flow of top-tier firm partners into smaller firms, Allens Arthur Robinson has lost a commercial partner to Hall & Wilcox.Attri

IN YET another example of the increasingly rapid flow of top-tier firm partners into smaller firms, Allens Arthur Robinson has lost a commercial partner to Hall & Wilcox.

Attributing the move to the needs of her clients, exiting partner Deborah Chew said last week that clients are searching for high quality legal services and levels of attention, but without the high costs. Most cannot afford the big firms, she argued.

“I found the clients I had at Allens were interested in the move and receptive to the concept of being serviced at the same quality level, but from a smaller firm. I have had a good response particularly from smaller clients at Allens,” she said. “I think there is a general understanding and desire in my target market for receiving a high level of quality at a more cost effective rate.”

Chew told Lawyers Weekly she believed smaller firms have a different attitude to smaller clients, arguing “[at a smaller firm] you get the level of service you don’t get at a larger firm”.

“At Allens there is a large focus on the big deals, which they are good at. I think it is more difficult to service the middle market from a firm like Allens, partly because it has a cost structure that makes it more difficult.”

Her new practice, she said, will concentrate on medium-sized, high-growth companies and private equity firms. Hall & Wilcox offers clients a tailored, commercially focused and more cost-effective service, she said, but also provides the levels of technical expertise and service standards her clients expect.

“Allens [Arthur Robinson’s] corporate and commercial practice is focused on a different segment of the legal market, so it doesn’t promote to, or target, my high-growth clients,” she said.

She said she approached Hall & Wilcox because the firm provides a platform for servicing clients within her target markets. “I was particularly impressed by their exemplary tax expertise and their track record of acting for a host of large private companies and high-net-worth family groups,” she said. “Hall & Wilcox’s areas of expertise, particularly their strong financial services practice, are extremely relevant to my client base.”

Before joining Hall & Wilcox, Chew was a partner at Allens for almost three years. She practised for more than 10 years with the San Francisco-based firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff and the New York firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

Pressed as to whether she felt the shift of partners and senior lawyers from top-tier firms into smaller, medium sized firms was due to an inherent unhappiness, Chew said happiness is ultimately a question of what the particular firm is. She said, however, that the move from Allens to Hall & Wilcox was not about the hours, arguing it was to focus on a segment of her client base she was interested in.

Having worked in a New York firm, she said the hours she has experienced in both Allens and Hall & Wilcox have not been excessive. Long hours are part of the standard lifestyle in New York, she said, “you arrive at 9.30 and stay until the wee hours. After a while you get tired of this”. This was the reasoning for coming to Australia, “and though you have periods when the work is intense, it is much better than it was in New York”, she said. “At Allens, though demanding, my hours were much better than they were in New York.”

“What you want is a firm that respects personal time, that believes its lawyers have a life outside the firm, and who are happy when the work permits. It depends on the firm,” she said. She noted that Allens was receptive to this need.

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 exit for small clients
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...