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Big firm lawyers move to small pond

Big firm lawyers move to small pond

THREE FREEHILLS lawyers have resigned from the firm to help launch a new Melbourne-based firm on 1 October this year. The three lawyers, two still in their first years of practice, have opted to…

THREE FREEHILLS lawyers have resigned from the firm to help launch a new Melbourne-based firm on 1 October this year.

The three lawyers, two still in their first years of practice, have opted to leave the large law firm environment for the chance to be involved in the start-up firm, Clarendon Lawyers.

Hillal Nagel resigned as senior associate from Freehills last week for the promised shared directorship of the new firm. He said he is excited about working with experienced people in a more flexible environment.

“For me, Clarendon Lawyers presents an opportunity to work with energetic, experienced directors — who all have backgrounds with top-tier firms — in a more flexible working environment,” he said.

The new job title was also appealing, he said. “I am also looking forward to being part of the growth of the start-up, and having the opportunity to have more autonomy so that I can drive and nurture client relationships.”

Nagel will join the firm as a director. The firm claims to already be working for a number of the ASX top 200.

Erin O’Connor, a first-year solicitor who resigned from Freehills last month, said the opportunity to work in a more intimate and transparent environment is a large part of what prompted her move.

“As a first-year solicitor in a large firm, you often feel like another cog in the wheel. It is difficult to see where your contribution fits within the bigger picture and the impact it has on the client,” she said.

O’Connor offered a pointer to any firm challenged to retain junior lawyers. “Clarendon Lawyers is different in the sense that the development of client relationships as well as gaining an appreciation of the broader commercial context is really encouraged from a junior level. To me, this is what enhances job satisfaction — understanding who you are working for and why”, she said.

Second-year solicitor, Angela Gidley, was lured by the chance to work closely with senior people across a range of practice areas.

“There is a tendency in large firms for lawyers to become very specialised very early. While I enjoy the corporate advisory work that I was specialising in at Freehills, I am keen to supplement this with some broader M&A work, and this move gives me the opportunity to do that,” Gidley said.

“I am also looking forward to working closely with directors in an environment where they all know exactly what work I’ve done — where they are more attuned to what I’ve done and where I’m going, so that they can really work with me in developing my career”.

The new firm will open in the prestigious Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne with 13 lawyers and eight directors.

The firm will call itself a boutique corporate and commercial law firm. It will specialise in board and executive advisory services, mergers and acquisitions, strategic tax advice, corporate finance and financial services.

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