Background

Our client, a leading independent law firm operating across Australia, wanted to strengthen its offering to its corporate client base, by adding the capacity to deal with transactional work. 

To this end, it wanted to recruit a Head of Corporate for the Sydney area – a role that would act as a figurehead and leader for a new, full service dedicated corporate offering for high profile commercial clients. However, hiring for the role had proven problematic. By the time Definitive Consulting was given the brief, the process had been ongoing for more than five years, during which time they had retained another search firm over a two year period who had also failed to fill the role.

In part, this was due to the nature of the brief. The firm wanted to hire at partner level – specifically a partner from a top tier firm with their own portable relationships and practice, and with the experience to deliver new business, build out the wider team and drive profitability.

Given that the larger top tier firms typically have institutionalised clients which are near impossible to move to another firm, this was clearly a very challenging brief.

Solution

First and foremost, the long previous search for a partner to fill this role created challenges of its own – it was difficult to know who had previously been contacted about the role and how the long, unsuccessful process had affected market perception of the firm and the brief.

In response, the Definitive team first undertook discrete market research, to understand market awareness of the role – ultimately discovering that awareness was low and perceptions had not been negatively impacted by the five year search to date.

The team also consulted with the client, to find ways to make the role more attractive and to arrive at a brief that was realistic, yet still reflected the client’s strategic requirements – in particular a partner with experience of working with clients across Asia.

With that initial process quickly complete, we undertook a significant process of market due diligence, specifically targeting partners with their own client relationships and with experience working with clients in China and Japan in particular.

Outcome

This measured, focused process quickly bore fruit. The team identified an ideal candidate for the Head of Corporate role, but also a Junior Energy Resources Partner to fit directly into the new corporate practice – a recruit that promised to give the new Head of Corporate a head start in building out the new team’s capabilities.

Our client was keen to hire both partners, so we worked closely with all parties to agree financials and tailor the offers – both of which were accepted.

Overall, the two hires are significant for our client, since they are crucial to its overall growth strategy but also send out a real message to the market as to its intentions in the Australian and Asian corporate market.