One of Melbourne’s top media lawyers is leaving the partnership at Corrs Chambers Westgarth to join boutique firm Kelly Hazzell.
Justin Quill describes himself as a “one firm man, up until today”. He has been with Corrs since he completed his articles with the firm in 1998, and was made partner at the age of 32. In that time, he has built an impressive client base, acting for the Herald & Weekly Times Ltd, Channel Seven Melbourne and Radio 3AW.
His new firm, Kelly Hazzell, is made up of ten other lawyers who have also migrated from the top tier or roles as senior in-house council. Quill has known the firm’s founders since university; both he and Michael Hazzell were students at Monash University.
Quill sees the move as an opportunity to focus on clients instead of billable hours and to achieve a higher level of client service and professional job satisfaction.
“The drive at a big firm to have a lot of big clients and the requirement to service the firm’s other big clients means that I think you’re not as responsive for any client as you can be at a boutique practice, where, frankly, the overall billings required are not as great,” he said.
The media are unique and highly demanding clients, Quill says, and he believes that working in a boutique firm will be more conducive to meeting their requirements.
“It is particularly important for a media lawyer to be able to be responsive. The media are unlike pretty much any other clients. To media clients you cannot say: ‘I’ll get back to you about that tomorrow or next week.’ They are unique in that sense, so that teaches you to be responsive.
“I guess the point is you want to be in an environment that allows you to be responsive,” Quill says. “At a small firm with less overheads and, frankly, less demand by the partners to earn huge salaries, you therefore don’t have to bill as much, which means you don’t have to spread yourself so thinly, which means you can be more responsive and service the clients better.”
Kelly Hazzell has no pre-existing media practice. In its two years, the firm has focussed on litigation and commercial matters. Quill does not seem daunted by the task of starting from scratch, possibly due to the fact that several of his clients, including the Herald Sun, are hotly tipped to follow him to his new firm.
“The quality of the firm can sometimes be judged by the quality of the clients and the quality of the clients at Kelly Hazzell is really good,” Quill says.
“At the present time their biggest client would be Toyota. Toyota is a good quality client, and, hopefully, when I go across there the firm will accept some equally great quality clients to go along with that,” he said.
If his clients do follow him to Kelly Hazzell, they will be able to continue working with Quill at a much lower rate than the $650 per hour typically charged by Corrs partners. “It’s got the big firm quality without the big form price tag,” Quill said.
“For me one of the real attractions of moving to Kelly Hazell is to be involved in a firm going from strength to strength, I’m really excited about becoming involved in what is really an early stage of what I am confident is going to become one of the great firms in Melbourne.”