A peer-to-peer networking forum, providing an exclusive and secure social networking forum for the managing partners of Australia’s law firms has been unveiled. The Managing Partners Alliance has been spun out of the annual Managing Partners Forum as an initiative to allow law firm leaders to continue their interactions in a private and secure online forum.

Managing partners of the nation’s leading law firms who attended the 6th Managing Partners Forum, held in Queensland in late February, agreed that with the legal landscape still in flux, and continued economic uncertainty, the coming 12 months will be a tough period. Speakers and delegates at the conference acknowledged that firms and lawyers were under increasing pressure to make budgets as they competed both locally – and increasingly regionally.

The Managing Partners forum is now established as the nation’s peak legal event, bringing together managing partners for a full and frank exchange of views.

Jenny Katrivesis, project director for Chilli IQ, which organises the Forum and which will operate the Managing Partner Alliance, said “By creating a secure online forum we believe there will be more opportunity for managing partners to share insights throughout the year, and where appropriate collaborate on issues affecting the industry as a whole.

“A similar Alliance launched late last year by Chilli IQ but targeted at the IT directors of law firms, has been very well received and is being used by the sector to share valuable insights about the application of IT to the profession.”

Ms Katrivesis said that the Managing Partners Forum  – which this year attracted a sell out crowd of 75 of the nation’s leading lawyers – had focussed this year on the “New Normal” which was emerging as law firms around the world continued to consolidate and merge.

Managing partners attending the event also acknowledged the fundamental shift that was taking place as many firms reported a growing percentage of their revenues were now coming out of Asia. A high proportion of firms noted the need to engage more effectively with Asia in order to grow overall revenues.

The top priorities for the year ahead were identified as the recruitment and retention of top talent, particularly seasoned partners, while those firms which had or were in the process of merging, said that they were still challenged to manage the associated integration issues. Achieving profit and efficiency targets remained an ongoing challenge for all firms.

Over the coming five years managing partners said that they expected the Australian legal landscape to be dominated by international law firms with the mid-market composed almost entirely of firms focussed only on the domestic market. There would however still be space for boutique and specialist firms – but the days of the full service independents were described as “numbered.”