A major firm has embarked on a colossal secondment strategy that will see vast numbers of staff moving between offices.
Since King & Wood Mallesons’ global merger in 2012, the firm has been developing staff transfers between offices in order to drive cultural understanding. The strategy aims to arm lawyers and staff at all levels, with the skills to better advise clients and in some cases, even help with short term resourcing.
Global managing partner Stuart Fuller
said the strategy will mean clients get the full benefit of working with a global firm.
“Only by coming and experiencing that yourself in another part of the firm can you genuinely understand what the clients and the markets are like,” he said. “You get to experience part of being a global firm, you get to see what the rest of the firm is like and develop business and personal relationships.”
The firm’s view is that sending staff overseas for anywhere between three months and three years, is not only valuable to the firm but helps staff in their careers.
“For lawyers, it’s becoming a valuable career progression tool. It gives you optionality that you can progress your careers in other parts of the firm, but also it allows us to keep good talent in the firm,” said Fuller. “Bringing together a group of 2700 lawyers in a relatively fast time frame means you need to develop personal relationships, so having people moving around in the firm allows us to know and understand each other.”
For lawyers in training at the firm, they spend time in Hong Kong as well as in the Australian offices.
“Between Australia and Hong-Kong effectively there’s a pilot program, and we do this for trainees as well. It’s called our international graduate program where the lawyers spend a period of months in Australia and a period of months in Hong Kong. We have also moved BD staff around the firm as well as IT staff around the firm,” said Fuller.
Last year, at any given time the firm had 50 staff members on secondment with another office. This year the plan is to double that number.
“It helps the global market, as you’re growing these firms and changing that from strong firms in their home market to a global firm, having people circulate through the firm, brings in a very physical sense the fact that the firm has globalised,” Fuller said.