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How we work with clients

FY17 was another record year for MinterEllison. To propel us forward in new and exciting ways we've continued to explore opportunities to lead the market and enhance existing capabilities through innovation.

Throughout this search we've remained steadfast in our commitment to being our clients' best partner.

 

Innovation

With a framework in place to deliver on our innovation goals, we are well placed to be recognised as the firm that provides our clients the most innovative solutions.

Our goal is to be recognised as the firm that provides the most innovative solutions 

The client sits at the heart of our innovation strategy, which is underpinned by four key pillars:

 How week work pillar service

Service

Innovation to expand services, so that we provide clients with seamless ‘one stop’ access to solutions across legal and adjacent dimensions to reduce risk, improve cost efficiency and simplify life for our clients.

How week work pillar execution

Execution

Innovation to provide our services more efficiently and effectively, including by creatively utilising technology and different business models in new and innovative ways.

How we work pillar price

Price

Innovation to develop new approaches to pricing that delivers value to our clients.

How we work pillar delivery

Delivery

Delivering our solutions the way clients want them using traditional and innovative modes.

We've had some fantastic achievements over the past year, due in part to the efforts of our Innovation Council.

Led by Partner and Innovation Leader Andrew Cunningham, the Innovation Council drives the development and implementation of the firm’s innovation strategy. The Council members are advocates across the firm, facilitating vital connections to promote a strong innovation capability and culture.

There has been much progress in Service Innovation, where we’ve built on our objective to create a suite of solutions to complement our legal offerings, providing clients with seamlessly integrated legal and consulting services.

In FY16 we announced the acquisition of the executive pay governance consultancy expertise of our Board and Executive Remuneration (BER) team; and ITNewcom, a top tier, boutique technology consulting firm.

Inspired by the possibilities to add client value, we’re continuing to expand the services we offer to clients.

Innovation Council

Our Innovation Council – comprising partners, senior consultants and strategic advisers – supports the development and implementation of our innovation strategy, advocates for a strong innovation capability and culture across the business.


Catalyst Committee

Catalyst is a group of young professionals at MinterEllison who support the Innovation Council. They do this by facilitating events within the firm to promote a culture of innovation, leading innovation projects, and sharing the innovation message.

In the past year, the Catalyst Committee has formed and:

  • presented their insights to the Innovation Council - providing a welcome diversity of perspective.
  • collaborated with senior representatives, including the firm's Innovation Leader and an external IT provider, to create, develop and test MinterEllison's new innovation collaboration platform called “WeThink” which Catalyst now curates.

Our consulting offering

Clients have told us they are looking for seamlessly integrated legal and consulting services. In response, and to support our ambition of being our clients' best partner, we've made changes to our business model.

During this financial year, we've expanded the firm's suite of offerings to our clients to include technology consultancy firm ITNewcom, and the pay governance expertise of Board and Executive Remuneration (BER) consulting services.

ITNewcom acquisition

ITNewcom has a 20 year track record providing strategic advice and risk assurance consulting services to clients entering into large IT and technology outsourcing projects.

In a first for the legal sector, our combined team gives clients the ability to access seamless end-to-end consulting and legal solutions to achieve sophisticated IT and technology outcomes with lower risk, greater efficiency and simplified project management.

Board and Executive Remuneration

The acquisition of the Board and Executive Remuneration team was the first 'cab off the rank' in building our suite of non-legal advisory services for clients.

The team’s board and executive remuneration governance consulting expertise broadens and strengthens the support the firm has traditionally provided to Boards and CEOs of national and international clients through our corporate, tax and employment practices.


Case study

MinterEllison Remuneration Governance Team helps CSL avoid Strike Two

MinterEllison's Remuneration Governance team were approached by CSL to advise them on improving executive pay design and governance, gaining better alignment between shareholders and executives, and enhancing investor support – all to be achieved prior to the October 2017 AGM.

To deliver to this deadline, MinterEllison worked alongside the CSL Remuneration Committee, Board members, and Human Resources team.

The only companies listed on the ASX with market capitalisation greater than CSL are BHP and the Big 4 banks. At the October 2016 AGM, more than 25% of shareholders voted on the resolution to adopt the Remuneration Report were against. CSL had just received its first ever strike and did not want a second, that would require putting a board spill motion to shareholders.

Australia's 'two strikes' rule, is of interest because although 'say on pay' legislation has been introduced in several countries, Australia's version is unique as it gives shareholders the right to spill the board while not requiring a binding vote on pay.

The first task was to complete a diagnostic of CSL's executive pay system in the context of the strike and then build a plan for change.

An early intervention in the change plan involved organising, and guiding meetings between board members, major investors from around the world, and proxy advisers who had opposed the Remuneration Report. This was a new initiative for CSL, and was effective in building understanding for all stakeholders of the concerns related to the Report.

This process built insights about opportunities for pay design, with the CSL Board agreeing to the development of a new, globally-competitive pay design for its senior executives.

Over the following months, the MinterEllison team worked closely with CSL to develop and pass significant changes to pay design; including developing a new equity performance condition, and adoption of a face value equity allocation methodology.

CSL's annual incentive was also redesigned – with the number of key performance areas significantly reduced to Net Profit after Tax (NPAT), Cash Flow from Operations (CFO) plus up to three other business or individual objectives.

The team also introduced a Board level 'Leading and Managing Modifier' to assist in ensuring that CSL senior executives deliver sustainable financial, operational and people outcomes. A 'take-home-pay' table was introduced to CSL's Remuneration Report (in-line with Australian Shareholder Association guidelines) to help investors differentiate actual remuneration received from the statutory disclosures.

MinterEllison also assisted in development of an annual analysis of pay levels across five different comparator groups for reference purposes to help CSL better understand the pay levels of senior talent around the world.

Assisted by our Remuneration Governance team's work, CSL are continuing to expand their global footprint with an executive pay design which aligns shareholders and senior executives.


Flex

MinterEllison Flex is our fully integrated, on-demand contract lawyer business, giving our clients and their in-house legal teams the confidence to be agile.

In FY17, Flex has grown to become a leading provider of top tier legal talent using this model. Our national pool of top tier talented lawyers continues to grow - both in diversity of capability as well as experience.

The extraordinary growth achieved by Flex in its first full year of operation is testament of the value it provides our clients.

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Genworth chooses MinterEllison Flex

When one of their lawyers headed off on parental leave, it seemed the perfect opportunity for Genworth to try MinterEllison's Flex program.

Prudence Milne, Genworth General Counsel and Company Secretary, talks about Genworth's experience with one of our Flex lawyers, Lara James.

We regularly use MinterEllison for legal advice, particularly around employment law and one of the partners we work with suggested we take a look at Flex.

In the past we have used secondees, so this was something quite different and we were curious to see how it worked. We got in touch with MinterEllison, sent over our job requirements, and almost immediately they came back to us with lawyers they thought would fit us.

Lara, our Flex lawyer has worked in both private practice and in-house, and had the right litigation, process issues, and customer contracts and resourcing procurement experience. She’s a fantastic lawyer, and the whole process has been a seamless, pleasurable experience.

In using a Flex lawyer, you know they have the support of a large leading firm behind them. We are also able to dial up and dial down the services as needed, and that flexibility is very convenient. 

We spoke to lawyer, Lara James about her experience as a Flex lawyer

Why did you come to Flex?

Flex is a business model that suits my own need to work flexibly and my desire to contribute my skills across a broad range of industries.

I wanted to align myself with a solution that helps address the shifting legal service landscape. Clients have new needs and expectations, and I believe the innovation and convenience Flex offers will deliver exceptional service to clients, and lawyers like myself.

What’s the biggest benefit for lawyers involved in Flex?

The opportunity to immerse myself within a client environment and to form part of an in-house team has provided me with an incredible opportunity to gain insights into our clients’ operations and their strategic challenges and imperatives. 
It’s very satisfying to see your contribution make a positive impact. The diversity of clients and industries that I’ve been able to support has made the experience even more rewarding.

How does MinterEllison support you as a Flex lawyer?

The Flex team are terrific at matching me to particular clients, because they take the time to understand my experience, skills and career goals, as well as the more practical aspects of being a flexible contractor, such as work location or availability.

I like that ongoing training opportunities are made available and I am encouraged to seek the advice of my colleagues with subject matter expertise to broaden what I can offer. When on secondment I’m fully supported to provide the best possible service to the client, and when I’m between secondments I’m kept up-to-date with upcoming projects.

What makes a good Flex lawyer?

The ability to quickly get up-to-speed with an industry and a client’s operations, and to build strong internal stakeholder relationships. Make yourself accessible, embrace your curiosity, communicate effectively, and act as a member of the team - not an outside advisor. The more effort you make to reach out, the more information that you have about a client’s operations and its commercial goals, the more readily you will gain the client’s respect by advising in a concise, nuanced and commercially meaningful way.


Empower

MinterEllison’s Empower program enables our people to positively disrupt and innovate their work skills and practices to enhance the firm's offering.

In doing so, the program develops opportunities for growth of our practice areas by encouraging our people to deepen their understanding of the challenges facing our clients.

Since the introduction of the program we have seen an increase our people working at client sites and enhanced relationships.

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We spoke to MinterEllison associate Ryan Davis about how Empower has enabled him to deliver better client solutions and build stronger relationships.

How has Empower helped you deliver a better client experience?

Empower has given me to get a greater understanding of my client's and specifically how they operate internally, meaning you understand more succinctly the impact of your advice.
I can better respond to my client's needs in a more meaningful way by understanding their unique business requirements and existing practices.

What influence has Empower had on your day-to-day working style?

Working at Blue Care has certainly resulted in me working more collaboratively, face-to-face. If the client has a problem they want to discuss, rather than discuss the problem over the phone, I will often drop into their office and discuss the problem in person.

How has the program enabled you to build stronger relationships with your clients’?

I get to meet a wide range of people and it helps put your face in front of more stakeholders than would usually occur. When you are working from the client's office, people will often approach you for quick informal advice and to bounce ideas. Once you assist someone in this way, you build a rapport, as you create new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

What benefits to do see in working at our clients’ site?

You get to meet stakeholders and influencers that you wouldn't necessarily get to meet in the traditional service delivery model. These relationship enhance the firm's service delivery, and clients enjoy the personal and accessible service.

MinterEllison wins Innovation award for Empower Program

In June, the Empower program won the coveted award for Innovation in Strategy & Changing Behaviours at the Financial Times Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers Awards.

Chief Experience Office, Fiona Glendinning, the driving force behind Empower, accepted the award on behalf of the firm. 

Fiona believes that Empower is designed to challenge a person's natural inclination to revert to traditional approaches – "this is the way we do it" – and instead drives activity that results in enhanced experiences for both clients and MinterEllison partners and staff.

"Innovation strategies only succeed if they are accompanied by the mindset and behavioural changes needed to ensure that innovative practices, tools, technologies and solutions are adopted,” said Fiona.

“Lawyers will deliver the most value if they seek opportunities to redesign their work practices with the client experience at the core, not just with a focus on the delivery of great technical advice. Empower provides a roadmap to do this."


Safetrac

MinterEllison’s online compliance training solution, the Safetrac Group, provides innovative and intuitive governance, legal risk and compliance management software solutions to an international client base.

Safetrac has experienced significant growth and development over the past year.

In partnership with its clients, Safetrac was awarded:

  • Platinum for Best Compliance Training Program in the Asia Pacific region at the annual LearnX Impact Awards Asia Pacific 2017 – with Salmat Limited, for the delivery of a complete compliance training suite to Salmat's entire workforce within Australia and overseas. This the seventh year in a row that Safetrac has received this award.
  • Platinum for Best Workplace Health and Safety Courseware – with Museums Victoria, for creating a bespoke training module on workplace safety that focused on handling hazardous substances within the Museum's vast artefacts collections.
  • Gold for Best Bitesize Learning Design – with Australian Unity Limited, for creating a bespoke Aged Care-specific compliance training suite.

The group has also noted:

  • a 20% growth in its renewal business - its highest ever.
  • a 6% attrition rate of existing clients – the lowest in seven years.

And has:

  • released the new Boardtrac Plus application - a secure document dissemination tool used by boards and others groups looking to distribute highly confidential documents in a secure manner to verified users.
  • significantly expanded the types of courses offered to 92. This includes three different versions of our core courses.
  • continued attracting significant big brand clients including AON, Salmat, Coles, Museum Victoria, Contiki, Kinetik Super, Qualitas & Samsonite.
  • continued strong growth in custom development services and built custom courseware for significant clients including Air New Zealand, Coles, Museum Victoria and the Bank of New Zealand.
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Bespoke module offers WHS education & assessment for Museums VIC 

Museums Victoria went to tender for the creation of a bespoke online module to educate their staff on dealing with hazardous substances in their collection department.

As the topic was niche, with unique Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) requirements bespoke to the organisation, they needed a learning provider to take their internal content and recreate it as an online module, with a separate assessment component to test staff's knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Safetrac was successful in the tender process, and after consultations and workshops with Museums Victoria, went about creating the module. The client provided a variety of content for use in the module, including videos, scenarios, PowerPoint presentations, and internal policy and procedural content.

After the build of the module, the course was distributed internally to Museum Victoria staff, and was ready for deployment in the client's learning management system (LMS). The course was well received, with feedback praising the online functionality after years of handbooks and classroom training.

Externally, the course has been recognised by the LearnX foundation, Asia Pacific's leading awards for e-Learning content, winning the Platinum award for Best Safety Course in 2017.


Design Thinking

Our goal as a firm is to create a distinctive experience for our clients and our people – enabling us to deliver on our brand promise to be our client's best partner.

To do this we need to look beyond "business as usual", to challenge ourselves to look for new meaning in how and where we grow, in acquiring and harnessing the capabilities in mobilising new technologies and approaches that matter to our clients.

That is where Design Thinking comes in. It's a mindset of combining creative and analytical thinking and applying it toward solving a specific problem or opportunity – but always from a human centred perspective. How will this deliver exceptional value to the user of this service (our clients)?

This new human centric way of thinking is part of our new capability set which allows us to generate insight by making unexpected connections and trying out fresh approaches.

What is explores current reality… What if envisions a new future… What wows challenges us to move beyond the "business as usual"… What works bring us to action.

We are harnessing Design Thinking principles and working with clients and teams within MinterEllison to come up with dramatically different ways of working and creating innovative solutions for clients.

Coders Collective

MinterEllison's innovation agenda is focused on developing firm‑wide innovation capability and culture.

Formed in late 2016, the Coders Collective aims at fostering IT innovation, incubating ideas for technology driven solutions, and ultimately developing some great legal apps within the firm.

In this age of Artificial Intelligence and increased automation of tasks, it is important for lawyers to be familiar with new requirements and client expectations, including being able to code.

Over the course of FY17, members of the Coders Collective have worked on, and showcased, various projects that automate tasks including:

Creating the Definition Checker app

During the course of FY17, our coders developed a new app – the Definition Checker.

This timesaving app is an add-in to Microsoft Word and checks a document for problems with its use of definitions, while also providing quick access to definitions and where they are used.

It is particularly useful for contracts, advices and prospectuses. In future versions, Definition Checker will be able to identify cases and legislation and link to Austlii.

The creation of this app allows the firm to streamline delivery of high quality contracts to our clients by reducing inadvertent errors in large documents, and the time needed in checking them.