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How this award-winning firm is adopting ‘a different approach’

Non-traditional working models are likely to become increasingly popular in the coming decade, predicted this award-winning lawyer, who said that “it doesn’t have to be the way that everybody’s always done it”.

user iconLauren Croft 12 October 2023 SME Law
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Danny King is a previous winner of the Managing Partner of the Year award at the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards and founder of Danny King Legal, which won Employment Team of the Year at the most recent Australian Law Awards.

Speaking recently on an episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, she discussed her firm’s step away from traditional working models and the many benefits of doing so.

Ms King established her firm 13 years ago at 27 years old and has implemented a “choose-your-own-adventure” model within her firm.


Not having a traditional working model, she explained, has “so much potential”.

“It doesn’t have to be the way that everybody’s always done it. And I represent a lot of people who are partners in the big firms and the smaller firms. And I think without there being a circuit breaker, the law is going to continue to be dominated by the person who has been raised in – and I don’t want to hold this against anyone, but if you come from a position of privilege where you’ve gone to the right schools and you know the right people. And your parents, probably your dad, [have] been someone that is pretty prominent, and you’ve already got your established network and all that kind of stuff.

“And you can only pull the extremely long hours because you don’t have responsibilities outside of work, usually because you’ve got a partner, commonly a wife, who can take care of all of the life admin and responsibilities. So, if we don’t require extreme hours and return on the investment of the salaries, it’s almost like you’re mortgaging your employees by paying them a salary and then requiring them to jump through a really high hoop.”

In contrast, Danny King Legal has a three-hour billable model, which Ms King said helps “give the power” back to staff as to how to spend the rest of their working day.

“We don’t require people to apply for leave for every little thing. We just trust that if you’re going to do your budget, you can do that from wherever you are. And whenever it works for you, you can do it once the kids are in bed. You can cram it all in a week and take the next week off because of the school holidays and just accommodate the fact that life is bigger than a commitment that you make to your work, then the barriers for success are different,” she added.

“We can see so many more people who have a rich and varied life have success in the law and what looks like success slowly have the opportunity to change from what it has always been to people who do have kids, who are the wife, who might have a disability and some other form of prohibition that stops them from fitting in. They might be quite different. So, if we’re able to provide the platform for people to thrive and then just get out of the way, then that’s the point. That’s the vision, the vision we have for the industry is that it’s where everybody is welcome and everyone can thrive.”

However, Ms King has received mixed feedback on this model – but there remains “huge potential for people with an entrepreneurial mindset to band together and have extreme success together”.

“A lot of people don’t believe me that it’s profitable, but it is, I think, because it requires a significant shift in theory of how you run a law firm and what performance or good performance looks like. Making a change is hard, but I think once the incredulity passes, people are becoming more interested in alternative models, and for the bigger, more established firms, change there is going to be very, very difficult,” she outlined.

“But what I really see is the huge potential that this creates for early-practice ventures, people who are just hanging out of shingle now and thinking, how do I attract cool people to come and work with me, but I can’t afford it. Or you can do it by having a great culture and sharing equitably. People in our firm are all on the model; I’m on the model, everyone’s on the model. There are no turbocharging extreme profits that are coming out of the labour of others.”

Elements of this working model are also likely to be more mainstream moving forward, Ms King predicted.

“Too many established practices rely on the pyramid leverage model, and too many people are very comfortable in that model. And the prestige of working in the top tier is still really shiny, at least for the next 20 years; I would think they have got a pretty decent runway where they can rely on big brands to attract top talent that can come in and work their butts off in that model,” she said.

“But hopefully, over time, as more and more people adopt a different approach and people who are in that model that are burnt out, please give me a call because we’re always keen to share our methods and our space and our hearts to people who are genuinely interested, to thinking about things a bit differently.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Danny King, click below:

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