THE MANAGING partner of a small Perth firm has been handed the top job on an Australasian group of law firms, where he will lead 19 firms in achieving peak performance.
David Vilensky, managing partner of Perth law firm Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky, was appointed chairman of Law Australasia at the group’s recent annual conference in Queenstown.
Law Australasia is an association that comprises 19 small- to medium-sized law firms, both city-based and regional, across Australia and New Zealand. The association’s member firms employ nearly 500 people and have an annual gross fee turnover of more than $70 million.
Vilensky describes the association as a learning group in which member firms share information and practice experience and run problems by each other. The objective of the association, he said, is “to make firms more profitable, more productive, to maximise the intellectual capital within firms and to create a high performance culture”.
Law Australasia requires that member firms disclose information about their financial performance. While membership is not restricted to smaller firms, Vilensky believes that the “whole firm needs to be committed to it” and because it can be more difficult to get all the partners in a large firm to embrace it, “small- to medium-sized firms are more likely to get benefit out of it”.
Law Australasia holds conferences twice a year, at which presentations are given by management experts on a range of topics, which in the past have included retention strategies, generation Y, marketing strategies and succession planning. Vilensky said: “My vision for the next 12 months is to improve the [member firms’] scrutiny of each other.”
When Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky joined Law Australasia in 2000 “we were absolutely in the bottom two firms in terms of productivity and profitability. We were terrible, and we thought we were doing okay”, said Vilensky.
“I make no secret of the fact that our firms’ development in the last three or four years has been very much a result of things we’ve learned or got out of Law Australasia policies.” The firm’s improved performance won them the association’s annual Pursuit of Excellence Award in 2005.