DLA PHILLIPS Fox seems to have reached a turning point after suffering setbacks in its property group in 2007, with the promotion of one of their senior associates to partner.
The firm has just announced the promotion of 29 year-old senior associate Laresa Koscharsky to partner, and another hiring is imminent. Chris Edquist, national practice leader of property, infrastructure and development said the appointment demonstrates the “depth of skill residing in the ranks of our senior associates”.
The hiring of another new partner has yet to be officially announced, but industry speculation suggests the addition will be an external appointment.
The DLA property group resembled a house of cards at the end of 2007. Partner Jodie Masson left in early October, taking four team members with her to Middletons. The exodus was followed only weeks later by the departure of Virginia Briggs, who joined Minter Ellison as a partner on 15 October.
Eight fee earners remain in the group at present, according to Koscharsky.
Koscharsky, who specialises in real estate, admitted that her appointment marks the tail-end of a difficult period for the group. “The initial period was difficult. But we’re definitely in the rebuilding phase; we’ve hired quite a few additional people,” she said.
She added that the group is now focused on consolidation, and unlikely to expand any further in the short-term. “I think we’ve established ourselves now, I don’t think we’ll be hiring any more people after this unless there’s an additional need. I think we’re at that point now where we’re working well together,” Koscharsky said. “I don’t think there was ever a dip in client service or anything like that … and we will still continue to do the work that we’ve been doing.”
Despite the reshuffle, Koscharsky said her rapid rise to partner was unexpected. “No, I certainly didn’t anticipate that. I mean I’d certainly been working towards that goal but obviously not really thinking [it would happen] at this point.”
Koscharsky will receive mentoring and support from across the firm, including one-on-one sessions with the finance director Bruce Gardiner and human resources director Jan Roberts, “to explain how the business works and the financial aspects and how to manage those,” she said.
“I’ve [also] met with experts who teach me and [assist with] managing clients and client relationships and how to build them. The firm has designated me with a more senior partner as my mentor to help me and assist me if I’ve got any questions or if I’m not sure how to proceed with something.”
Age was “no barrier” to the promotion, according to Koscharsky. “The reaction’s been excellent,” she said. “I think it’s really affirmed for me that [DLA Phillips Fox] is the place where I want to be, because during the interview process and the lead up, being 29 and a female was not a barrier at all.”
Her advice for other ambitious young lawyers is “[to] seek constructive feedback [from partners] and to not see that as a negative thing,” she said. “[They] can offer constructive feedback on how to improve — because we can all improve, all the way up the chain — so that you can exceed expectations and push yourself to the next level.”