The Aussie Corporate

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Charging hard in firm strategy and billable hours

AusCorp Remarks

Led by the hard-charging Gavin MacLaren, the looming shadow of Corrs has grown in recent times. Despite its competitors being caught up in the trend of merging with international counterparts (hell, even Gadens gave it a shot), Corrs is one of those last large commercial law firms that has stubbornly chosen to remain independent. 

The firm has been around for over 100 years now since its inception in 1841, so it’s done well to adhere to its Australian roots thus far. This doesn’t necessarily make the firm any worse off, it just means they can remain a bit more flexible when it comes to choosing foreign counsel, and they don’t need to join in any profit sharing with overseas counterparts. True to its nature, the firm has offices just in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Port Moresby (weird?).

Unlike its similarly tiered competitor, G+T, Corrs’ reputation is in its litigation practice, including the construction, disputes and arbitration (including international arbitration) teams. In fact, Corrs has strong Tier 1 rankings based on Legal 500 across pretty much all of its litigious groups. Despite this, it’s obvious that the firm is looking to build out and compete in the transactional space, with a spree of new hires from rival Australian law firms, including through some bold raids from its top-tier rivals for its corporate and banking areas (looking at you, Minters). 

You don’t see Corrs much on the other side of the megadeals now, but we have a feeling that this could change in the near future. For now though, don’t expect to see many of these transactions on the front page of the paper. If you happen to love cyber and tech, Corrs also has a pretty formidable data protection practice, reeling in a Band 1 ranking from Chambers. This practice area is often on the periphery for top-tier firms, but Corrs seems to have made a name for itself and found the sweet spot for servicing its clients here.

Despite being labelled as an (upper!) mid tier (or as they like to see themselves, a top tier)  Corrs definitely has some size and oomph behind them. With over 600 lawyers Australia-wide and graduate hires of similar numbers as the Big 6 firms, you can still expect the biglaw experience and the usual training you would expect at other firms. The reputation of Corrs is stellar and if going overseas is something you’re hoping to achieve in the near future, don’t worry too much about Corrs being an unfamiliar name to recruiters. We’ve heard that the big firms overseas will still take a good hard look at you if you hail from this independent Aussie firm.

The hours will probably be comparable to those at the Big 6 and G+T, given the leaner teams but at least you’ll be learning lots in the deep end of that pool. One thing we would highlight is the removal of the somewhat archaic concept of billable hour targets and the more “innovative” approach of assessing someone based on the results they achieve. Who really knows what that means… but what we do know is that if you want that juicy bonus at the end of the year, you’ll still need to work more than an undisclosed annual billable target.

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From the horse's mouth

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