The legal market in Western Australia is steadily strengthening and boutique firms are leading the way. Briana Everett finds out what's happening in the west
The dominant position of boutique firms in Perth means they are in the best position to capitalise on a market which is showing strong signs of recovery and increasing demand for lawyers, according to Burgess Paluch Legal Recruitment director Doron Paluch.
"Over the last five years I have seen a lot of boutique firms really come to the fore in Perth," he says. "There are partners from some of the top-tier national firms, like Mallesons and Freehills, who've left those firms to set up boutique firms and from what I hear are doing very well."
Paluch notes how many top-tier lawyers are successfully transitioning to strong boutique firms in Perth.
"At boutique firms, lawyers can often be more involved generally at all stages of a transaction and 'get their hands dirty'," he says. "Boutique firms are doing so well with clients that often, lawyers are not sacrificing quality of work when they move to a boutique."
The fact that smaller, boutique firms are thriving is indicative of the minimal impact Allen & Overy's arrival has had on the market, according to Paluch. "I haven't seen any substantial impact yet from the entry of Allen & Overy into the market," he says. "I heard a lot of bells and whistles a few months ago and I'm yet to see what that translates into."
Although Paluch describes a significant level of optimism in the Perth market, he says the recruitment activity of firms remains cautious. "There's a lot of optimism in the Perth market. There is recruitment going on but the firms are being very, very cautious about any recruitment they do," he says. "It might be because they haven't recruited substantially for such a significant period of time. They're just making people jump through a few extra hoops before they offer jobs nowadays."
Perth has always had the resources sector to fall back on during tough financial times, according to Paluch, but he says other sectors, like corporate/commercial and mergers and acquisitions, are also doing well. And as things pick up, he says salaries are fast becoming amongst the best in Australia.