The challenges faced by Australia’s boutique and small law firms will be the focus of a new legal forum launching later this year. The inaugural Managing Partners Forum – Boutique & Small Firms, is designed to meet the needs of law firms which have fewer than 100 staff, are generally single city or single-state focussed, but which often boast big name clients who seek them out for their specialist capabilities. The event will be held at the Outrigger Resort, Noosa, Queensland on 8 & 9 August 2013.

George Katrivesis, of event organisers Chilli IQ, says the event will feature presentations on technology, human resources, marketing, leadership and law firm management. It is intended as a complementary event to the annual Managing Partners Forum which focuses on larger firms and remains a particularly valuable networking forum that is a proven source of important referral work for smaller firms.

Peter Magee, a partner in Armstrong Legal, said that he regularly attended the Managing Partners Forum, but generally for the networking opportunity rather than the content. While news about globalisation and international law firm mergers was interesting it was not of direct relevance for Armstrong Legal with its family law, criminal law and contested estate focus and staff of 70. He said that the HR, marketing, technology, or even business strategy issues challenging large firms were distinctly different to those that smaller firms were grappling with. “We are swimming in a pool rather than the ocean.”

The areas of interest for boutique and small law firms included issues such as:
·         Staff and partner recruitment, remuneration, retention;
·         Online marketing and social media;
·         Structures for equity, tax, risk management, growth and succession;
·         Practical applications of technology;
·         Practical ideas for business planning and budgeting; and
·         Effective staff supervision approaches to maintain quality control.

Speakers lined up for the conference include:
·         Tim Aspinall, managing partner, DMH Stallard (UK)
·         Peter Magee, managing partner, Armstrong Legal
·         Dan Simmonds, managing principal, Harwood Andrews & Sladen Legal
·         Henriette Rothschild, managing director, Hay Group and
·         Joel Barolsky, managing director, Barolsky Advisors
·         John Kain, managing partner, Kain C+C Lawyers
·         Michael Bradley, managing partner, Marque Lawyers

George Katrivesis said the event would offer delegates insights about how to effectively deploy technology, develop strategies to streamline operations, attract and retain key staff, and receive fresh insights about emerging business and leadership models. Delegates attending the event will also be invited to participate in a specially designed survey intended to provide fresh clarity about the challenges currently faced by Australia’s boutique and small law firms.