Alternative law firm Plexus is witnessing a change in the operation of in-house legal teams as a result of alternative firm models such as itself.
According to director of Plexus, Andrew Mellet, an increasing number of in-house legal managers are taking advantage of experienced temporary staff. “What a large number of general counsels seem to be recognising is that having a large number of people with similar skill sets may not be the optimal solution,” said Mellet.
Instead, more and more in-house counsels are choosing to keep a few in-house positions vacant for specialist lawyers when the need arises. “If they have a budget for say 10 legal staff, they keep the team at eight, so that they can keep some seats and budget free to then draw in specialist staff when they need them for certain projects or even additional skills when there is a spike in work.”
Mellet says this change in approach sits well with the high number of lawyers looking for more flexible and variable work. “A lot of our lawyers are women. If you look at the statistics around women and the law more than 50 percent of women leave the law after five years and Plexus is a net beneficiary of that,” he said.
Since launching 18 months ago the firm has more than doubled its team and is looking to add another four or five internal people in the later part of the year. It has also worked on projects with 10 of the top 20 ASX-listed companies in Australia. “Being a large company means there are always lots of projects on the go,” said Mellet. “Therefore getting the optimal talent to support the business is an ongoing challenge for general counsels. A lot of the general counsels running the big legal teams are quite progressive and are always looking at new possibilities.”
Network of legal ‘refugees’ growing in size and standing 29 November 2012