In 2004, Mills Oakley was a one-city firm with 16 partners. In 2019 the firm has more than 100 partners generating $200 million in revenue with offices in three states and the ACT. Mills Oakley CEO John Nerurker opened up to Australasian Law Management Journal about some of the factors that have led to the firm’s success. Some key snippets are below. The full article is at this link.
The first step was to devise a profit-sharing model that would incentivise the kind of behaviours that drive long-term success.
… a firm’s success is closely linked to its ability to promote and reward rising stars
… older partners absolutely do not have a target on their back! Within our model they can remain with the firm for as long as suits them, on their terms, while being fairly remunerated and valued for their contribution.
Every equity partner has an exposure to every practice area in the firm. This incentivises all partners to work collaboratively, share clients, IP and market intelligence and truly work as a single partnership.
… our model is fluid: we recalibrate equity points annually, based on the previous year’s performance. This ensures that no partner ever draws more than their contribution and that our model is sustainable.
The best part of our model is its simplicity. If you are a great lawyer, a good cultural fit, and you’re able to sustainably introduce $800,000 in fees to the firm, you’ve reached the partner threshold. If you’re able to introduce $1.6 million, you’ve reached equity. It really is that straightforward. And, we apply exactly the same threshold to our internal candidates as we do for lateral hires.