Lawyer exchange a win-win for firms

Brisbane firm Bennett & Philp Lawyers is reaping the benefits of taking part in an early-career-lawyer exchange program.

In September, property and planning solicitor Caitlin McNamara spent two weeks at Sydney firm Swaab, while Swaab litigation Senior Associate Daniel Miller headed north for a fortnight in the Bennett & Philp office.

Caitlin spent a week with a litigation team and a week with a property law team, carrying out non-billable work.

She said although she found little difference between the operations of the two firms, she enjoyed sharing experiences with lawyers at her level or above.

Daniel’s time at Bennett & Philp included attending litigation team meetings, the monthly firm lunch, and an event held by the firm’s Young Professional Network.

Bennett & Philp is one of six firms across Australia and New Zealand in the program, which is run by Meritas, a global alliance of independent law firms.

Bennett & Philp lawyer Pyper Adsett and Swaab Senior Associate
Daniel Miller at the Young Professional Network event.

Bennett & Philp Director Andrew Lambros said the exchange was a reward for a staff member for their efforts in the firm, and helped them gather insights into how another law firm operated.  

“Often our staff come back with suggestions on ways we might be able to improve or they might be able to improve how they practise,” Andrew said.

“It also helps to develop deeper ties between our various ANZ firms within the Meritas network by also introducing our firm to another solicitor from another Meritas firm.

“We make a real effort to engage that person with a number of members of our firm in various social activities and showing them how we practise as well; the solicitor we send gets a similar level of involvement in that firm.”

Andrew said the program’s success had led to law firms in the Meritas network in the UK and elsewhere in Europe establishing their own versions of this exchange.

The program was piloted in 2019, then suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Other firms involved are DMAW Lawyers (Adelaide), Madgwicks (Melbourne), Williams+Hughes (Perth) and Martelli McKegg (Auckland).

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