Boutique firm Kelly Hazell Quill Lawyers has gone from strength to strength in the last 12 months, partially as a result of the current economic crisis.
When high-profile Melbourne media lawyer Justin Quill joined the firm in June 2008, he made national headlines for his departure from the Corrs Chambers Westgarth partnership.
Since joining the firm, Quill has added his name to the company moniker. The firm recently relocated to larger offices in Melbourne's central court precinct, and has recruited a fourth director, former TressCox \ partner Greg Thomas.
Quill's decision to join the boutique practice predated the hysteria of the global economic crisis, but he believes the financial fallout for large corporate clients has actually benefited the smaller law firms in the market.
"You would think that it would, perhaps, not be the best timing to go and join a small firm, but the way things have panned out, and with larger corporate organisations trying to save dollars, it's actually been very good for boutique firms like ours," Quill said.
"What that all boils down to is we are finding that we are getting a bigger share of a smaller pie."
Quill predicted that the shift in mindset that has occurred as a result of the economic crisis is likely to outlast the current downturn.
"I can't imagine a situation, when the worm turns and the economic starts improving, where a big corporate would decide 'Let's go and spend more money elsewhere because we can'. I think if they are happy with the service they are getting they will stay where they are," he said.
However, he also emphasised the importance of boutiques such as Kelly Hazell Quill retaining their individuality - and their competitive advantage.
"I think the key thing for boutique firms will be to not lose their point of difference and not try and be a big national firm, charging high charge out rates."
"The reason the boutique firms have gone well is because of who they are, what they do and what they charge, and I think as soon as you mess with that mix and change that mix it will have consequences."
- Laura MacIntyre