The heavyweight hitter with an infamous edge
Clayton Utz is an independent Australian law firm, infamously known for the role that it played in McCabe v British American Tobacco Australia, a case that graces the corporate law textbooks of aspiring lawyers in university. Trust us, you’ll want to look this one up.
It comfortably places itself in the category of the “Big 6” Australian law firms, with 179 partners and 1,600 personnel across six offices in all major states and territories. Clayton Utz, or as it is more affectionately known as, “Clutz”, has traditionally been the leader amongst the law firms in advising the government at all levels, and is often seen on the winning end of government tenders, given its long-standing relationships in this arena. This isn’t surprising with notable alumni including John Howard, Julie Bishop and the now-disgraced, ex-Attorney-General, Christian Porter.
Whilst government clients can be horribly unorganised and bureaucratic, there is a limit to how demanding and ambitious client deadlines may be. In that sense, given the chances that you will come across working for the government, you may feel that there is far more breathing space here than in another firm (unless of course, you are unfortunate enough to love working in those notoriously busy practice areas such as PE/M&A/ECM or Lev Fin).
In fact, Clutz has a great reputation for its laid back culture and happy-go-lucky Partners. While this might lead to a more hands-off approach to training, we think that this approach is ultimately better for everyone’s mental health in the long-run.
In addition to the strength of its government work pipeline, Clutz still manages to land roles in high profile matters that hit the front of the AFR. If this is one of your motivations, then you should get your fair chance at building up that resume and dealsheet in their transactional teams.
All this sounds great, but don’t expect anything special for your salary. We’ve heard that Clutz pays a smidgen below market rates for its lawyers but we wouldn’t advise anyone to take this up as an issue if you’re enjoying the people and your time at the firm.
Cluttz also has a particularly strong focus on pro bono work and its contribution to society, which makes sense given the reputational damage that it has suffered in the past (e.g. in 2011, it was also rocked by sexual harassment allegations that were eventually dismissed by the Court).
Clutz marks itself as a pro bono leader in its marketing and does not shy away from touting the average of over 50 hours of pro bono work that each lawyer undertakes each year. For many that do not want to completely sell their soul to their law firm overlords, this is an attractive reprieve from their usual work that provides some form of redemption.