Who are we ?

If you have management responsibility within a law firm or legal department, then ALPMA is for you. ALPMA is the peak professional association for legal practice managers in Australasia. Our members include Practice Managers, senior executives, specialist managers (like HR, Marketing & Finance), Managing Partners and sole practitioners.  Everything we do is designed to deliver on our promise to members.  

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Upcoming Events

How to invest to achieve revenue growth Date Wednesday 30 April 2014 Start Time 12:30pm End Time 2:00pm Venue Partner (http://www.qls.com.au/Home) Level 2, 179 Ann Street, Brisbane Q 4000 Session Overview In any climate and any size of firm, marketing budgets are heavily scrutinised for tangible outcomes and return on investment. Most often the successful roll out of marketing strategies is limited by the money available. What firms often miss however, is answering the key question that will determine whether growing your firm is hampered by a stagnant brand or ineffective business development and that is, “What are the obstacles that must be overcome to drive growth for my firm?” Only after addressing this question can you determine the best branding and/or business development practices that will accelerate revenue growth. Wayne Stewart, from the boutique consultancy Monte Rosa (http://www.monterosa.com.au/), will discuss the effectiveness of when to invest in your brand and your business development and what expectations you should have on their direct contribution to revenue growth. Even with a limited budget and resources there are key elements that when done well will deliver increased revenues. In this session you will understand: The key differences between Brand Management and Client Management How to apply a portfolio approach to your marketing budget to maximise your chances of achieving your business goals Why your marketing initiatives may not be generating the returns you seek, and what you can do about it. Our Presenter Wayne Stewart (http://www.monterosa.com.au/team/), Director, Monte Rosa. Wayne is passionate about evidenced-based best practices in sales and key account management. He has more than 17 years’ experience in sales and marketing roles across Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region and as a consultant, has worked in many industries including the professional services, financial services, pharmaceuticals, recruitment, technology, market research and industrial manufacturing. For five years Wayne held the positions of Director of Marketing and Head of Business Development at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, one of Australia’s leading corporate law firms. During this time Wayne’s strategies have ensured that Corrs maintained a growth rate consistent with the leading industry performers. In 2010 the Australian Financial Review acknowledged Corrs’ success in this area during their annual law firm review stating Corrs’ “client and commercial focus is second to none.” Wayne works with all sizes of firms and concentrates on training, coaching and consulting to partners, management and leadership teams, helping them to achieve their revenue goals through enhanced selling skills, sales/pursuit strategies, sales management, key account practices and new service and brand launches. Claim 1 CPD Unit ALPMA’s Learning and Development programme accommodates the three compulsory core areas of CPD. If this seminar is relevant to your immediate or long term needs in relation to practice management and business skills for your professional development and practice of the law, then you should claim one unit. Event Costs ALPMA Members - Free. Please login to register. Non Members* - $99.00 (inc GST). Includes a light lunch served from 12.30pm. *Non Members must be eligible (http://www.alpma.com.au/BecomeaMember/become_a_member) to join ALPMA..
Branding versus Business Development
From difficult to desirable: The changing face of the performance conversation Event Doing difficult conversations well Date Tuesday 6 May 2014 Start Time 12:30pm End Time 2:00pm Venue Details Kindly hosted by Piper Alderman, 70 Franklin St, Adelaide Session Overview Is there a business process that creates as much angst, adds as little value and causes more damage than the traditional performance review and its related practices? Many leading enterprises think so and that's why they are replacing the infrequent, form-based and dreaded performance review with a totally different performance conversation. It's a conversation that drives clarity of expectations, inspires real collaboration (not half -hearted cooperation), motivates people and teams to strive for something better and delivers outstanding results. If that idea inspires you, then come and hear real business case studies from companies who are reinventing their performance conversations using simple tools to make this a centrepiece of a more nimble, adaptive and high performing culture. Our Presenter Graham Winter, Executive Director, Think One Team (http://www.thinkoneteam.com/) Graham is a bestselling author and advisor on leadership, teamwork and performance to leading Australian and international organisations. He is the founder and Executive Director of Think One Team International and his CV includes three-times Chief Psychologist to the Australian Olympic Team (including Sydney 2000) and six years as exclusive designer of High Performance Leadership Programs for PwC Consulting in the Asia Pacific. As a Consultant and Performance Psychologist, Graham has worked with thousands of leaders and teams across Australia and internationally. His books include the best seller Think One Team and his most recent First be Nimble is becoming a must read for leaders and professionals addressing the challenge to adapt and innovate in a volatile business world. He is married with two sons and lives in Adelaide, from where he travels regularly to consult and advise clients. Professional Development Earn 1 CPD point, Practice Management and Business Skills Event Costs ALPMA Members - Free. Please login to register. Non Members* - $99.00 (inc GST). *Non Members must be eligible (http://www.alpma.com.au/BecomeaMember/become_a_member) to join ALPMA ..
Doing difficult conversations well
Find out what Forensic IT can do for your firm Date 7 May 2014 Start Time 1.00pm AEST End Time 1.45pm AEST Venue Details Access this webinar online Session Overview Forensic IT has revolutionised how evidence can be discovered and proven. Linked as we are to technology, it is almost impossible to open a document, take a photo or make a phone call without, at the very least, information relating to time and location being recorded. The implication for business is huge, but only if you know how to capture and interpret this information in a meaningful way. For this reason, it is worthwhile to have a working knowledge of what Forensic IT can do for you: Law Firm Managers will find this useful when staff leave their employment just as lawyers have much to gain on behalf of their clients. In this webinar you will learn: How to identify risk factors which may indicate a misuse of firm data Is there any way to mitigate the risk of losing data? What kinds of information can be found on your computer, smart phone and every other electronic device Why the integrity of data matters How to preserve data for later admissibility in court Our Presenter Michael Khoury, Partner, Ferrier Hodgson Michael Khoury (http://www.ferrierhodgson.com/au/about/Michael-Khoury) is a Partner in Forensic IT services in Sydney. His areas of specialisation include: Computer forensic investigations for matters pertaining to corporate fraud and financial crime, intellectual property theft, cyber-crime, employee and contractual disputes eDiscovery services for law firms and the financial and corporate sectors Assisting in investigations for regulatory and law enforcement agencies Assisting in insolvency related matters including corporate collapses, administrations and receiverships Michael has supported a large number of civil and criminal investigations for various industry sector groups including government, private and corporate clients. He has also assisted a number of law firms with their litigation and commercial disputes, including executing live search warrants and Anton Pillar orders. Michael also appears as an expert witness in State and Federal courts. Professional Development Practice Managment and Business Skills 1 CPD unit Event Costs ALPMA Members - Free. Please login to register. Non Members* - $99.00 (inc GST). *Non Members must be eligible (http://www.alpma.com.au/BecomeaMember/become_a_member) to join ALPMA..
Forensic IT. Is your firm at risk?
Event Financial Benchmarking for Small and Regional Law Firms Date Tuesday 13th May 2014 Start Time 12:30pm End Time 2:00pm Venue Details Kindly hosted by Crowe Horwath (http://www.crowehorwath.net/AU/Locations/Townsville_QLD/Townsville/Home.aspx), 22 Walker Street Townsville Qld 4810 Session Overview Crowe Horwath has again partnered with ALPMA to deliver the 4th Annual Financial Performance Benchmarking Study (https://alpma.worldsecuresystems.com/Research/benchmarking-survey) of Australian law firms. Falling in a tough year and against a backdrop of a challenging economic environment, the latest study shows that firms indicate lower growth expectation in the coming year, an average of 9% compared with 11% last year. The study reports that in response to external pressures, firms have focused on “resetting” their financial positions to the “new normal” as a platform to achieve a new “personal best” for growth and profitability. Given that more than 72% of those participants in the latest survey achieve revenues of under $10M (and 82% of these are under $5M), our presenter, John Swete Kelly will talk through the more specific elements of the study results impacting on small and regional firms. Attending our regional forum will provide you with: Benchmarking guidance against similar sized firms in relation to revenue per partner, profit margins and overheads. Trends in relation to profitability through improved cash flow and getting more from less resources. Growth expectations across the study group for the next year. Networking with local peers in your region. Our Presenter John Swete Kelly, Principal, Business Advisory, Crowe Horwath (http://www.crowehorwath.net/AU/services/advisory/) John rejoined Crowe Horwath’s Business Advisory group in 2011 after spending time working in the building industry. He brings a wealth of executive management experience including 21 years’ service as an officer in the Australian Army. Prior to joining Crowe Horwath, John was a Director with EIS, which was acquired by Crowe Horwath. He has also worked at CEO and senior management levels within manufacturing, construction and education. During his career, John has held a number of company directorship and board roles bringing to his practice a greater understanding of the challenges clients face and a pragmatic and commercial approach. John specialises in developing and implementing improvement programs incorporating business and financial acumen, performance management, corporate transformation and succession planning. These programs often include business simulation training with staff at all levels. He also works with clients to implement benchmarking and performance management reporting systems for financial and non-financial KPIs. Claim 1 CPD Unit ALPMA’s Learning and Development programme accommodates the three compulsory core areas of CPD. This seminar applies to the core area of practice management and business skills. If this seminar is relevant to your immediate or long term needs in relation to your professional development and practice of the law, then you should claim one unit. Event Costs ALPMA Members - Free. Please login to register. Non Members* - $33.00 (inc GST) or if you haven't attended an ALPMA event before, register for a free guest pass (https://alpma.worldsecuresystems.com/BecomeaMember/free-guest-pass). Includes a light lunch served from 12.30pm. *Non Members must be eligible (http://www.alpma.com.au/BecomeaMember/become_a_member) to join ALPMA..
Townsville Forum - Financial Benchmarking for Small and Regional Law Firms
Event HR Workshop Date Tuesday 13 May, 2014 Start Time 9:15am End Time 4:30pm Proudly Sponsored by (http://www.legalpeople.com.au) Venue Details Hall & Wilcox Level 30, 600 Bourke Place Melbourne Session Overview The Annual HR Workshop returns in May. Come along and gain a deep insight into the key HR challenges facing the legal profession in 2014 - including finding and retaining quality staff, performance management, agile HR strategy and our specialist session - Your Tricky Questions! We welcome Liz Ryan, People & Culture Director at Maddocks, who will facilitate an expert panel presentation in the morning and then take you through all those tricky HR questions in the afternoon. Our Panel + Topics Featuring key HR Managers from within and external to the legal industry. Stephanie Beard from Sladen Legal Cristin Bailie of Madgwicks; and Damian Zahra Head of People at REA Transition from top-tier to mid-tier and how HR contributes to high performance in both types of firm Cristin Bailie - HR Manager, Madgwicks Using her industry experience, Cristin will compare and contrast her experiences of working in HR at a top-tier and mid-tier firm. Cristin will discuss practical ways that good HR practices can be implemented in either environment and share her experience of what can make a difference. As a case study, Cristin will share her experience of realigning the performance management process and philosophy and how this can contribute to developing engagement and higher performance. Time permitting, Cristin will discuss her most recent project of implementing an external engagement survey and how these results can lead to high performance initiatives. How Culture Drives Strategy and HR's Role Stephanie Beard – HR Manager, Sladen Legal Sladen Legal has undergone a significant re-brand and a major move in the past 12 months. Learn how the importance of collaboration within office locations and across different locations was vital to the positive, productive and profitable move for this long established firm. Stephanie will discuss why HR has an important role in driving the culture within a firm and how “The Hub” made a huge difference within Sladen Legal. With the challenges of three locations and a move to open plan, Stephanie will provide a case study of the logistical and cultural change encountered. How to apply lean and agile management principles to drive collaboration, creativity and innovation and ultimately high engagement! Damian Zahra - REA Damian Zahra is the Head of People - Commercial, Corporate Services and Hong Kong, at REA Group Ltd. REA is a top 50 ASX listed business that operates Australia’s number 1 residential and commercial property websites as well as market leading websites in Italy, Hong Kong and Europe. Damian’s role as Head of People at REA Group is to drive people strategy and performance locally and internationally. Damian returns to the HR Workshop Panel and will provide insights around cultivating organisational creativity and engagement using lean and agile HR principles. Damian will also touch on the alignment of People and Brand as well as key learning’s based on the transition from the legal profession to one of the country’s leading digital businesses. The Tricky Questions Session 1:30 to 4:30 Our afternoon session features Alison Baker, Partner at Hall & Wilcox Lawyers along with Liz Ryan. They will guide you through the highly interactive afternoon "Tricky Questions" session. This session of the program will provide participants with in depth responses to the “tricky questions” they have submitted, using practical examples where appropriate, as well as an update on legal developments in Employment Law over the past 12 months. Alison, a specialist employer lawyer, will bring a legal perspective to the session, while Liz will draw on her extensive HR Management experience to provide an HR perspective. This is also a great opportunity for delegates to network and share experiences with peers. Our Presenters Liz Ryan, People & Culture Director - Maddocks My current role is director of human resources for Maddocks. I oversee a team of nine HR executives across two offices and have responsibility not only for recruitment and internal policies, but also for our quality assurance program which provides me with an opportunity to stay close to the business operating systems. Alison Baker, Partner - Hall and Wilcox Alison has an extensive employment practice, advising clients on all aspects of employment and workplace relations law. Her experien..
VIC Annual HR Workshop 2014

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Issues and pitfalls to avoid when negotiating property leases

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

By Giles Knapman, Director of Space Property Consulting

Leasehold office property costs are frequently the third highest expense component for typical business space users. Given that the standard of offices occupied by some the larger law firms is of premium/ A grade quality, with consequential rental levels, this cost element may even be the second highest after personnel. 

There has been much publicity about the downward pressure on legal fees placing pressure on practice managers to maintain profit levels. Leasehold property can play its part in reducing fixed costs, but the approach required to any lease expiry or other event (such as a merger or site consolidation) must be strategic and well planned in order to achieve that.

Key Issues to Consider

1. Volume of space

Do all professional staff need to be in single offices? Is there scope to move to regular sized offices (negating "musical chairs" when offices are vacated), or move to shared offices or more junior staff to open plan? Note that a reduction in occupation density can reduce the volume of space taken by up to 20%.

2. Timing

This is a critical point. Availability of likely suitable premises in your market (both existing and under construction) must be considered in conjunction with the lease expiry date. As a general guide only, a legal occupier of under 300sqm should commence the process no later than 7-8 months before lease expiry. Above that to 1,000sqm should be started at least 10-12 months before. Those with space upto 2,500 sqm will need at least 15 months. As an example, I acted for one legal client with a need for 20,000sqm; that process started 4 years before lease expiry.

3. Advice

Firms with space needs of over 250sqm should take advice from an expert Tenant Advisor. They are very distinct from agents, who act for and are paid by their clients, landlords. Ensure your Tenant Advisor has the right level of experience and undertakes due diligence from a variety of sources. Fees should equate to around 20% of the savings able to be generated and will depend on the scope and size of the project. The appointee should commence work right at the start of the process for best value.

Property cost components

Below are the principal (certainly non exhaustive) components that you need to discuss in any premises stay/ go exercise:
  • Rental - is it net or gross? Is it fair and comparable to other options
  • Outgoings - what is included, comparison to others, ensure capital cost items are excluded. Part floor occupiers take particular care on common areas
  • Incentives - these are highly market dependent and can take the form of contribution to fit out, rent free or rental abatement or a combination. Landlords typically negotiate more on incentive than the 'face' rental.
  • Lease term - ensure the desired term reflects the right balance between amortisation of fit out cost/ longevity V the risk of an extended lease liability
  • Premises area - ensure it is measured to NLA
  • Option terms - should ideally be shorter than the initial term. Example: 3 + 3 years following a 7 year term
  • Rent reviews - typically fixed increases per annum with a market review (on equitable terms) at option!
  • Fit out - is the existing fit out exhausted? Is there churn space available in the existing building? Are there external premises available with a fit out and how usable is it? How much should a new fit out cost (this varies enormously but a sensible range for a reasonable to good quality is $1000 to $1800/sqm)
  • Reinstatement - inheriting an existing fit out, length of term taken and option terms all have an impact on the extent of liability which should be agreed to. A full 'make good liability' at lease expiry currently ranges from $150 to $300/sqm for a more intricate fit out. Different markets have different expectations on this liability.
In addition, there are those items which don't have a direct immediate cost, but may well do so down the track; these include:
  • Fair and unrestricted alienation clauses
  • Expansion and contraction rights
  • Access period for fit out/ allowance for delays
  • NABERS rating
  • Redecoration clauses.
Note - a Heads of Agreement is not usually legally binding unless it is stated that the parties have agreed that it should be.

Dangers to Avoid

My experience of over 13 years acting for tenants tells me that the most significant dangers to for firms to avoid when negotiating leases are:
  1. Leaving things too late
  2. Not being represented
  3. Taking 'advice' from landlord agents when not represented
  4. Failing to ensure that the right internal person is dealing with the issue
  5. Not keeping matters confidential.


About Our Guest Blogger

Giles Knapman is a Director of Space Property Consulting.  He completed his academic studies in 1993 with a Degree in Property Valuation and Law (MA) and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor (MRICS) in 1996.  

He has advised numerous clients on projects that have ranged from small regional offices of 250sqm to significant consolidation exercises in major cities of 30,000sqm.  The strategy led objective of each project is always to maximise savings, maintain flexibility where required and mitigate risk to clients business operations.

ALPMA March 2014 e-newsletter

In this edition: From the National President (#1) Financial Performance Benchmarking Study Resu..

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