fivehundred magazine > > Interview with… Tony Britten-Jones, Piper Alderman

Interview with… Tony Britten-Jones, Piper Alderman

How has your role / involvement in client facing work changed since becoming managing partner/setting up your firm?

I have always thought it important to maintain a degree of direct client work so as to maintain a sensitivity around client expectations and other issues impacting the actual practice of law.  However, over the past five years (I commenced in the role in 2015), we have had a 60% increase in revenue and equity partner numbers have increased from 26 to 46 so these days my “clients” are as much my partners and our staff as the people outside the firm with whom we work.

What are the biggest challenges facing firms in Asia Pacific and specifically the market in which you operate in?

Our clients’ businesses are confronted by constant change, increases in competition and accountability and ever greater regulation.  Keeping up and ideally, ahead of those pressures is the only way that we can stay relevant.  That is a considerable challenge, but if we meet the challenge then the opportunities and rewards are great.

The global pandemic has clearly changed the way in which organizations tend to operate. What impact has this had on your clients and your approach to advising clients?

The pandemic has impacted our clients and our own business in a wide variety of ways.  Whether it was an education provider having to move swiftly to the provision of online services, a financial services company moving its call centre to a remote working environment or a restaurant group changing from dine-in to all takeaway and delivery, it has required a combination of resilience, innovation and adaptation to successfully manage that change.

These are all traits to which we aspire in our own business.

The ability to use technology, to be agile and pro-active, and to advise with a real appreciation of the interaction between risk and the law in our specialist areas has meant that we have been able to assist and interact with our clients over this period.

What do you do differently from other firms? What do you think separates you from your competitors?

Evolution and innovation is in Piper Alderman’s DNA and the firm has always been driven by an entrepreneurial mindset.

This has seen our firm grow from its historic position as a leading firm in one city to a multi office firm with a team of over 340 people providing services across Australia.  We have developed this offering whilst remaining independent and agile, with a business model that enables us to service clients at a variety of points in their growth trajectory and with a deep commitment to building personal relationships with our clients.  Our clients typically share these traits, and we act for many clients who are either disrupters or who are intent on growth and innovation in their existing business.

Many law firms are good at preserving the status quo, defending. We are adept at defending and often that is the best solution, but, particularly in the litigation and conflict spheres, we are at our best on the attack. We have the experience and resources to both protect our clients’ assets and grow their business effectively, and to do this in a lean and pro-active manner, keeping under the radar where appropriate. This approach gets results without drawing attention and that’s the way most of our clients want it.  Not many firms do this as well as Piper Alderman.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Our clients certainly value consistency and stability in their legal advisers.  We often have a trusted adviser status for our long standing clients, and for many of our newer clients we are an integral part of establishing the path to market for the business, particularly where they are innovating in areas that test the current law.

Overall, our clients want their lawyers to have a clear understanding of and alignment with their strategy and with a skillset and approach that contributes positively to the pursuit of that direction.

In three years time we will have grown our offering, but we will remain independent, agile and focused on the needs of the owners, investors, entrepreneurs, not for profit and other clients who need a firm with substance and gravitas, who understands their industry, shares their vision and passion and values the relationship we have them.


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