find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (1-3 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Join a dynamic Firm · Excellent career growth opportunity
View details
In-house lawyer 1-4 PAE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Leading Brand · Report to a Dynamic Legal Counsel
View details
Firms merge to topple competition

Firms merge to topple competition

QUEENSLAND’S ANSWER to the national problem of how firms should distinguish themselves in the market, this week appeared to be via mergers with other firms. Boutique Brisbane firms Templeton…

QUEENSLAND’S ANSWER to the national problem of how firms should distinguish themselves in the market, this week appeared to be via mergers with other firms.

Boutique Brisbane firms Templeton Smith Lawyers and Bennett & Philp Solicitors merged this week, claiming their clients would be better served as a result.

In another example of starting the year off as bigger and better entity, Brisbane firm Shand Taylor Lawyers merged with Lowes & Co Solicitors this week, another boutique-sized firm.

Both mergers attribute the move to the necessity to better serve clients, including providing more comprehensive support infrastructures.

According to Shand Taylor Lawyers managing partner Rod O’Sullivan, who spoke to Lawyers Weekly just before the union on Monday, the firm was keen to get a little more experience in the commercial property section, which has been one of the main areas of growth for the firm in recent years.

The firm approached John Lowes of Lowes & Co, who is a well-regarded commercial lawyer, said O’Sullivan. When asked if he would be interested in a merger, Lowes said he would. “Things developed from there. [Lowes’] practice is also very strong in wills and estates, which is an area we felt we could develop with more manpower,” said O’Sullivan.

“We are, in the Brisbane scale of things, a small- to medium-sized commercial firm. We like to offer the full spectrum of commercial advice to our clients. Wills and estates is one of those areas that is really becoming a more commercial advice area than it used to be perhaps, with superannuation and asset protection being a much bigger issue than it was years ago,” he said.

O’Sullivan rejected the idea that a firm must find a niche area to practice in order to succeed in the small to medium size market place. “I don’t agree that you have to find a niche area to practice in. We don’t have that, we have a heavy property practice but I wouldn’t say it is a niche.”

He said some firms find another way to distinguish themselves. “I think smaller firms do need to distinguish themselves from other firms. That may be in the areas they practice in, or it may be in other things,” said O’Sullivan.

For his firm, a priority is accessibility. O’Sullivan argued that this is how the firm can stand out in the market. “Direct line phone calls, no phone screening, direct email and the lawyer who is given a matter handles the matter. We don’t assign a team of five lawyers to every matter that comes in the door.

“[In some firms] clients find themselves paying for the conversation the partner has with the senior associate about the matter, the one that senior associate has with the solicitor and the solicitor to the trainee. The client is then billed three of four hours of conferencing between the various solicitors. We are big on providing personal service to our clients. If you want to talk to the lawyer, you call them and more often than not they will answer the phone. That is our niche,” O’Sullivan said.

He acknowledged that talent is a big issue for smaller firms as well as the top-tier. The firm focuses on trainee recruitment, and building careers for the junior lawyers it has. O’Sullivan himself started as an articled clerk at the original firm, which was then called Hill & Taylor. Partner Matthew Shannon also did articles with the firm.

“We have found that to be the most successful way to attract good staff is to get them as trainees and keep them. It’s probably the case that well over half our solicitors either joined the firm as articled clerks or first year solicitors,” he said.

Another area of specialty which allows the firm to stand out is lifestyle, said O’Sullivan. “We don’t expect staff to be here at 10 o’clock at night and rarely is our office occupied past 6.30 in the evening. When we are here we work hard, there is not much mucking around. If you’ve done the work you can go. Rarely are people here on the weekends and we don’t expect our staff to work to 7pm. If the work has to be done it has to be done. But the work gets done within reasonable hours.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Firms merge to topple competition
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...