Bell Gully has made the most of global economic conditions to take 10 senior associates from Australia and Europe as New Zealanders decide it's time to return home.
The "reverse brain drain," has seen the Auckland-based firm finally get its way on the talent market, after witnessing the drain of New Zealand-trained lawyers to Australia, London and other global jurisdictions over the last few years.
Bell Gully chairman Roger Partridge told Lawyers Weekly on Thursday that most of the associates were returning alumni of the firm that he believes, to an extent, have returned because of the global economic conditions.
He said that, for the firm, it was "a once in a lifetime opportunity to recruit top quality returning lawyers who might otherwise have stayed in the UK or the Northern Hemisphere had global conditions not become so adverse".
It's also a chance to turn the tide on the difficulties NZ firms have had in retaining local talent.
"The vacuum cleaner hoovering up top-quality people has had its plug pulled," said Partridge. "We've had to work harder to get people back because they are coming back to a smaller market than the Australian firms are dealing with."
Partridge does not believe that a return to the recruitment game being a "seller's market," will occur anytime soon. "I think we will see the effect of it (the global financial crisis) over several years and we may see a semi-permanent change to the overseas experience concept," he said. "It may be that New Zealanders and Australians go overseas for a short period - say six to 12 months - rather than four to five years or longer."
The senior associates who have returned to New Zealand from Australia include Kerry Matthews, a banking and finance specialist and Kyra Vince, an insolvency and restructuring lawyer.
Michelle Banfield, James Bishop, Peter Jenkins, Hayley Miller, Toby Sharpe, Hamish Taylor, Fiona Tregonning and Karl Vincent have returned to the firm from London and Europe. Michaela Hutton returns from the Channel Islands, Stephen Layburn joins from another NZ firm, and Lucy Sykes was promoted from within Bell Gully to senior associate.
- Angela Priestley