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Scott Harris: no place for guarding proprietary interests

Scott Harris: no place for guarding proprietary interests interview image

Hogan Lovells’ new Australia managing partner discusses client protectionism, talent mentoring, and growing a firm with client needs in mind

How would you define Hogan Lovells’ culture? How important is firm culture to you?

A culture which is demonstrative of the firm’s values is critical to our success. Our clients come first, so we strive to satisfy them by achieving a deep understanding of their business, industry and needs, and by providing an excellent, responsive and innovative service. As a global firm, this commitment to success can’t be achieved without a fully integrated, collaborative and diverse team working together across the world in an atmosphere of mutual respect, collegiality and friendliness.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Not so much a change, but a reinforcement of the value our firm holds in bringing to the client a truly client-focused and collaborative team. We assist our clients to address some of the most difficult legal issues in their respective industries. Achieving this invariably requires a multi-disciplinary team carrying the relevant underlying industry-specific knowledge. There is no benefit to the client in – and therefore no place for – the guarding of proprietary interests in clients by particular practice groups or partners.

What are the biggest challenges facing the firm in Australia?

This is a very dynamic and changing market in which to do business globally and domestically. This includes the current legal services landscape in Australia. It is critical to embrace the changes and be equipped to meet the opportunities, risks and disruptions to which those changes give rise. This is something for which we are recognised across the world: Hogan Lovells is ranked a top-five law firm innovator globally in the Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyers programme.

There has been a flow of international firms entering the Australian market over recent years – how do you differentiate Hogan Lovells from the rest?

As Miguel Zaldivar, our new regional chief executive for Asia Pacific and the Middle East, recently said: ‘We got the strategy right.’ When we opened our Australia offices in 2005, we did not do so via a merger like many other firms have done. We started from the ground up and have built two very successful offices, in Perth and Sydney, in line with client demand. We will continue to grow to the tune of our clients’ needs.

What do you think are the top three things most clients want and why?

Our clients want (1) fresh, innovative thinking combined with proven experience, (2) efficiency, and (3) for their law firm to truly know their business and industry. In consideration of these client priorities, we are always looking to enhance our mix of services and how we deliver them so that we are providing the best possible service to our clients.

What have you found is the best way to retain talent – both at partner and associate levels?

I’ve found that listening to our partners and associates and providing the space they need to reach their true potential is the best way to retain top talent. Mentoring at Hogan Lovells is a firm initiative in which all lawyers and partners are encouraged to participate. We believe everyone can benefit from a mentor regardless of their career stage and we have various avenues of providing mentoring to suit the various needs of our people.

Since becoming managing partner what’s surprised you most, either internally or externally?

Hogan Lovells’ presence in Australia is relatively new. I have been happily surprised at the extent of the support received, and the commitment to our success in Australia demonstrated, by my fellow Hogan Lovells’ partners and colleagues across the world. This has enabled us to very quickly impress our international clients with the seamless, quality delivery of our cross-border legal services, and open up opportunities to build deeper relationships with those clients doing business in Australia.


Scott Harris became office managing partner for Hogan Lovells’ Australia practice on 1 January 2018. He has been with the firm in Sydney since August 2016 and leads the firm’s business, restructuring and insolvency team for Australia.