There is a unique bond between three of the four law firms that made the cut in Business Review Weekly (BRW) magazine's annual "Best Places to Work" flagship edition released last month (24 June).
The top three law firms to make the list are managed by the current or former presidents of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA), showing the value practice management professionals can add to the business of law.
Sydney-based firm Swaab Attorneys, led by ALPMA president Bronwyn Pott, claimed the prize as the highest ranked law firm taking 13th place, while Queensland firm Trilby Misso Lawyers ranked 32nd. Close behind was Melbourne's Cornwall Stodart Lawyers in 34th place and Gold Coast firm Attwood Marshall Lawyers in 38th place.
Discussing the pathway to becoming one of the best places to work, Swaab chief executive officer Pott says the results go someway to proving the value of having professional management professionals in the firm. "It's all about people and people take time. That's the thing I have always pushed. It's much more economical for [the firm] to have me doing this stuff than for [partners] to be doing it themselves," she says.
Likewise, managing partner of Cornwall Stodart and former national president of ALMPA Michelle McLean says the results indicate the like-mindedness of the individuals that originally came together to form ALPMA, who recognised the benefit of sharing their knowledge and foresight. "There is no doubt that a lot of the attributes that our firms have would have come from sharing knowledge within [ALMPA] and that education process," she says.
McLean says the firm did not enter the BRW survey for the purposes of winning a trophy, but to gauge employee satisfaction. "This is a really good way to gauge our employee satisfaction and contentment with the firm. We committed to doing [the survey] again this year, not for any other reason than it's a good barometer. It's a really, really great initiative for us to do, regardless of where we come."
As a past president of ALMPA in Queensland, Trilby Misso's chief executive officer Graeme McFadyen says the results help to illustrate the benefits of a collaborative approach. "At Trilby Misso, we identified some time ago [that] what we wanted to do was distinguish ourselves from our competitors," he says. "And what we thought would be the best way to achieve that is to deliver outstanding customer service at every opportunity. We found [that] you can't in fact achieve that unless you have a highly engaged workforce who are sufficiently passionate to want to do that."
McFadyen adds that any lawyer who doesn't recognise the importance of employee engagement and focuses solely on law and their clients is "uninformed". "The level of engagement of our staff is very, very serious to me, as a CEO. We have recognised that the level of engagement is a precondition to significant achievement," he says.