HFW is a global law firm with over 500 lawyers worldwide. Matthew Drew, Director, McPhail & Partners, has worked closely with the Australian business for many years. We sat down with their Country Manager, Peter Sheppard to learn the secrets of a successful law firm.


  1. Peter, the Australian office has doubled revenue in the last five years. That is a tremendous achievement, congratulations. What has driven that revenue growth?

We have experienced strong client demands for us to increase our capabilities in our selected six sectors across all our three offices.

To stay in Australia’s highly competitive legal market where you compete with not just boutique firms, but also large international players, it is important to offer a strong value proposition and client-focused service.

Over the last five years, we have focused on growing by recruiting and promoting the right talent, rather than focusing on numbers.  This has enabled us to strengthen our offering in our six sectors.

The firm continues to invest in the Australian practice and our plans over the next 3 to 4 years are to have another period of double digit growth.

  1. Finding the right staff to support that type of growth can be a challenge in Australia. What has been HFW’s recruitment strategy?

To identify the best talent available and give them the opportunity to flourish alongside the best practitioners in the sectors we practice in.

  1. As Country Manager, your role is extremely broad, and I’m sure a busy one. What keeps you awake at night?

I never stop thinking about how to make HFW the best legal practice in the world!

I want our people to be proud of who we are and the work that we provide for our clients.  We encourage our staff to challenge themselves – think of creative solutions for our clients.

We want our staff to actively think of new and innovative ways to deliver the best value to our clients.

  1. HFW is a global law firm. How does Australia perform against the other countries regarding innovation and performance?

We definitely punch above our weight! Our Australian practice is agile and always growing, and our leaders are constantly looking for ways to be creative in an ever-changing industry.

We have collaborative discussions with our other offices and work together to find the best solutions for global and local initiatives.

  1. How do you manage the culture in the Australian office so that it supports the global brand but has a local feel?

We have many of our local leaders sitting on various global boards and business initiative groups within the firm, so we understand the firm’s strategic objectives from a global perspective and we can adapt this to our local and regional nuances.

  1. More and more businesses are allowing [and in some cases asking] their employees to work from home. How has HFW responded to this shift in work practices?

I am actually responding to you from home today! We are sensitive to people’s lifestyles and are responsive to requests for altered work arrangements.

For example, we have a Sydney-lawyer working remotely from Tasmania.

  1. How does HFW ensure that its employees are engaged and motivated every day?

A mentor of mine once said, “you cannot motivate people, but you can create an environment where people can motivate themselves.”

By creating a collaborative culture, rewarding people for their efforts, keeping people informed of what is happening around the firm and ensuring people have the resources they need to carry out their work best, we have created that environment.

  1. How is technology changing the legal profession?

Technology is enabling firms to provide a more effective and efficient way of doing business. It enables us to further help our clients solve their business problems.

  1. Ten years from now, how do you think the landscape will look for graduates leaving university?

I would like to think that the landscape for future graduates is bright as firms keep up with client demands which is allowing people to be more creative by exploring new technologies and alternate methods of service delivery.

This could open up a greater variety of opportunities than we have seen historically with your traditionally conservative law firm.

We would like to thank Peter for sharing his thoughts and insights into business success.

To read more about HFW, click here to visit their website.