Where can you see yourself next?

Q&A with National Firm Gadens

Q&A with National Firm Gadens

Brihony’s practice covers all aspects of property development transactions, commercial and off the plan contracts of sale, distressed asset sales and significant acquisitions and disposals of land, mostly in relation to development sites.  Here’s what Brihony had to say about ‘post pandemic life’ within the Property and Construction teams at Gadens….

Real Estate & Construction practice groups have seen an increase in recruitment needs of late. What do you put this down to?

It’s been a particularly busy time for REC groups, and increased workflows are driving the need for additional team members.  What has driven that increased workflow during the pandemic is a really interesting question.  There is still a significant amount of capital, and that drives investment across all sectors but particularly property which is such a foundation industry of the economy in Australia. Australia is also by its nature an entrepreneurial Country, and there are lots of exciting projects our clients want to be at the forefront of.

How has your team managed to keep up with the recent demands and what are some internal things you do in order to alleviate the pressures of those in your team from burning out?
Working as a team, looking out for each other, and helping each other out allows us to keep up with the demand, alleviates pressures, and also means we have fun as we work.  We are fortunate at Gadens to have a large and diverse property practice that assists in sharing the load.  Flexible work arrangements also assist meaning team members can go for a run, spend some time with their children, practice yoga – whatever gives them a “break” from their day – balance is key!   Also accepting and understanding everyone as an individual, everyone works differently and manages their workload and stress differently.

How do you see the next 12-24 months play out within this sector and what excites you the most? 

I’m expecting that the property sector will remain strong, with transaction numbers increasing after the Christmas break. Industrial, agriculture, health care, and education remain growth areas and as we emerge into (hopefully) the post-COVID world, higher immigration levels to Australia should result in stronger demand and appetite for large-scale residential development (both build to sell and build to rent) and the office is already rebounding.

What type of exposure could a prospective new associate or senior associate expect if they were to join the firm in 2022/23? 

Gadens has a diverse real estate practice, we have expertise in office, retail, industrial and residential development, and leasing, we also have dedicated back and front end construction teams and planning. Gadens also has a “top-tier” client base while retaining all the virtues of a mid-tier culture. This means that any new associate or senior associate will get access to great clients and great work and a high performance culture, but within a supportive, collaborative, and balanced environment.

With Gadens continuing to build on its fantastic reputation in the market, what are your favourite aspects about working at the firm, and are there any cool insights you could share that might be attractive to potential lateral hires? 

There are many great things about the firm. I’m going to give you my top 3:   My #1 would be the people.  We have an amazing group of people across the firm.  Collaboration is fundamental to success, and collaboration works best when you enjoy working with and trust and respect those around you.  For Real Estate and Construction in particular our close relationship with the Banking and Finance and Corporate teams is critical.  

#2 is that there is freedom and acceptance for everyone to be themselves. There is no particular “mould” that someone needs to fit into.  I’m loud and have lots of energy (and never dress in “corporate” attire – I don’t own a suit), others are more reserved, some of the team are highly technical and others are more commercial.  I’ve never felt the need to change who I am, everyone is embraced as part of the team and their particular strengths are valued.

Finally, #3 we are a firm that truly delivers on flexible workplace arrangements.  I know “flexible working” is a bit of a catchphrase at the moment, but Gadens supports and encourages flexible working as part of the day-to-day work/life balance.  For me as Practice Group Leader and a mum of a 2 year old, this means that I take my daughter swimming on a Wednesday morning and always get to do bath and story time. That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, it’s just that there is give and take and balance.

When junior candidates join your team, what can they expect in the way of support and guidance?

Great mentoring and direct client access. Gadens has a structured mentoring program for our lawyers, and all juniors also have direct partner access.  We believe in the importance of developing all our lawyers to be “well-rounded” lawyers – which means developing skills over time, with support, in not only technical ability, but also commercial understanding, client relationship management, business development along with building an understanding of the business drivers of a law firm.  We pride ourselves on ensuring that our junior lawyers have direct client access and also get to work on a matter in a holistic manner – so start to finish management of a matter, rather than just discrete tasks with no client contact.  Enjoying work means being engaged, and feeling valued and part of the team.

Similarly, for those more senior candidates, what opportunities are there to progress internally and how does the Partnership assist with this? 

We have a partnership contribution framework that sets out clearly the diverse and combined attributes of what a “Gadens partner” is.  This is not a “one size fits all” model, but is strength-based and provides assessment against a broad range of criteria.  Developing a broad range of skills over time is critical to becoming a successful partner. We work with our senior candidates on their business plans towards partnership, with a focus on that particular candidate’s strengths. There should not be a “big jump” from a senior associate to partner if we’ve done our job and mentored a lawyer over time to be well-rounded.

Where would you like the firm to be in two years’ time? 

Going from strength to strength! We are continuing to build in Sydney and we attract high-quality clients and work and maintain strong client relationships. Great culture and high performance remain at our core.   

Lastly, what attracted you to Gadens and are there any parting words that can sum up your experience to date?

I chose Gadens because I wanted to be part of a national law firm that had market-leading expertise in property. Gadens is one of the largest real estate and construction teams nationally, and as a result, the firm is very much geared around real estate, this means that our banking and finance team, corporate team, and tax team have extensive expertise in real estate which aligns with the real estate and construction practice. I was also keen to make a difference in my workplace and to be able to contribute to the firm.  It’s been absolutely the right choice for me.

James Cockerill

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