Law firms are contending with a complex set of choices as their sector enters a new period of flux.


Whether it is a scarcity of skilled successors, increased competition and poaching, the rise of AI or changing attitudes
to billing, there are key burning platforms forcing new
strategic discussion.  

In our 2023 Pitcher Partners Legal Series, we look at the changes impacting the profession, the key issues keeping partners up at night, and the questions leadership groups need to resolve. 

Burning Platforms

Chapter 1

A law firm is only ever as good as its people — and in a fiercely competitive market, firms are struggling to recruit and retain the talent they need to keep performance high and continue growing.  

Re-opened borders have lured away early-career solicitors, the requirement for specialised knowledge continues to grow, and the profession continues to experience strong demand.  

All these factors contribute to a growing sense among practice leads and partners that they need to invest more time and energy in building their talent pipeline.  

So what should firms do to find the right people — and keep high performing employees engaged?  

One key issue law firms raise is finding the right talent at the
junior end.  

Young lawyers frequently become disillusioned with their first firm, perhaps feeling they are valued only for technical output. 

Nearly one in three Australian associates changed jobs in
FY2022, making this group 1.3x more likely to jump ship than
a senior associate.

Chasing talent 

Chapter 2

Going global
he growth in that number since 2011 
the number of Australian solicitors who describe themselves as working overseas 

Going global has become a marker of growth for boutique and small to mid-tier firms, as well as a way to develop and retain talent, as more lawyers seek internationalised careers.  

But it also risks diverting focus from local opportunities, with some ‘vanity’ expansions fizzling out due to the complexity and expense of operating across jurisdictions. 

Despite the risks, the temptation to gain access to new clients is a strong one, while new free trade agreements and the increased use of lawtech have both helped accelerate global ambitions.  

What needs to be considered first?  

We believe making a move should be based on a sustained area of demand for overseas assistance rather than a short-term solution to a staff or servicing problem.  

If offshore services is required, it should represent a genuine improvement to the client experience being delivered, otherwise less risky ventures like partnerships should be explored first.