New model firms provide opportunities for “the right” lawyers

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A leading practitioner in the thick of the bourgeoning business of NewLaw says new model law firms present opportunities for the right legal candidates.
Peter Monk, a founder and principal of Hive Legal and former partner of both DLA Piper and Minter Ellison, told Australasian Lawyer that career opportunities in new model law firms were just as attractive as those in a BigLaw career.
“This model delivers up a career opportunity which is of similar quality as going down the traditional law path - for certain individuals,” he says.
Some lawyers would still see benefits in being in one of the traditional law firm environments, particularly at the start of their career, however.
“At the earlier stages of their career the nature of the training programs that are delivered up through those firms are very good,” Monk says.
“It is really what happens once lawyers get through the early stages of development and move further up through the structure of the firm that it becomes more difficult to answer the question, ‘where to from here?’”
Many larger law firms have been trimming down teams in recent years, making the tournament for partnership much more grueling.
Monk says Hive’s model turns on its head the idea of a lawyer being a “wage slave” until they get tapped on the shoulder and told they are “up, or out”.
Hive Legal - which only launched this year – recently attracted two senior level lawyers from larger firms: Joanna Green and Andrew Brookes.
“Both are extremely capable, highly-talented practitioners. Both were on the fast-track to partnership, and the level of pressure applied to keep them by their old firms when they made the decision to join us is evidence of the quality of individual interested in the model that we are delivering,” Monk says.
Not only were both lawyers interested in exercising their craft in a different way, but they also had young families in addition to their legal careers.
“The concept of being able to deliver up exactly the same work volume, product and quality while having more flexibility thanks to our more virtual environment, was very attractive to both of them,” says Monk.
Furthermore, these lawyers also have the opportunity to take some ownership in the business as early as the non-principal stage of their career, giving them “skin in the game” far more quickly than they would otherwise in a traditional law firm.
The quality of work available at Hive, Monk says, is also just as attractive to top notch senior lawyers.
“We have multiple IPOs running, multiple corporate buy-side and sell-side transactions running of the magnitude you would expect to see in any of the major firm practices in any firm in the country.
“We are such a long way further down the path of development of our firm that we dreamt we would be, and the opportunities that exist are even greater for the best and brightest non-partners out there with our type of model.”