McDonald Murholme practices almost exclusively in employment law – being the only plaintiff law firm in Melbourne to do so on a substantial scale, employing 11 dedicated employment law experts for the purpose.
The firm has been dedicated to allowing employees access to the employment laws within Australia, aiming to provide sound legal advice and strategy to make the laws work for employees when confronted with a better resourced and more powerful employer. As such, its employees are skilled and very experienced in dispute resolution, to the benefit of both employees and employers.
It is the firm’s innovative structure which ensures that clients receive the very best level of service from its employees. Each Lawyer has a unique team of support staff, ensuring all the needs of the client are met. Each Lawyer is supported by a Junior Lawyer and an Administration Assistant, as well as a team of communications staff who act as a liaison between the Lawyer and Client.
This structure ensures that each client receives a highly personalised service. From the first appointment the prospective client is introduced to a member of the communications team who briefly explains the process of their claim and the steps moving forward. The Communications Assistant remains in contact with the client on a regular basis.
This overcomes the common problem where busy lawyers do not spend sufficient time understanding the client’s perspective on how the case is proceeding. This perspective is well understood by a professionally trained Communications Assistant, rather than a PA to the Lawyer.
Alongside this innovative structure, job satisfaction is also key to ensuring that clients get the very best from the practice’s staff. Mr McDonald outlines the most rewarding aspects of the firm’s work and how it aims to ensure its professionals are always at the top of their game.
“The legal sector provides a framework for the orderly resolution of a wide range of disputes which inevitably occur in the business and wider community. Within this framework, one can be creative and innovative in the ways and means of resolving disputes with a raft of laws, often in conflict with each other, providing a challenging backdrop.
“It is rewarding to enable employees to utilise these laws to fight a better resourced employer. McDonald Murholme prides itself on providing expert legal advice and guidance for employees from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, with some of the most rewarding results coming from those cases fought for a client on a lower income. Overall, here at McDonald Murholme we are unashamedly innovative and entrepreneurial in what we do. Our employee training programs are constant and well advanced.”
All of the firm’s recruitment is done in-house, as the firm feel that existing staff members are in a better position to decide on new employees as they live and breathe the company values. “Our recruitment is led by our General Manager and Senior Law Clerk who have experience in human resources,” adds Mr McDonald. “To ensure that we attract the best talent, it is vital we look after our existing talent. We endeavour to provide a fantastic workplace where employees enjoy the work they do and get recognised for it.”
The firm’s overall mission is to focus on fairness no matter what socio-economic background the client comes from and is dedicated to innovation in the practice of law.
To achieve this, McDonald Murholme is also passionate about spreading the word of employee rights in the workplace through awareness campaigns and partnerships with various non-forprofit organisations such as Beyond Blue and tertiary institutions such as Monash University. Mr McDonald proudly outlines how the firm has provided insight to the wider industry recently in order to share its wealth of experience and knowledge.
“In the last year, commentary provided by McDonald Murholme has featured in two front page articles in The Age newspaper – which has been syndicated across many other Fairfax publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald, again demonstrating the authority of the commentary from McDonald Murholme’s solicitors.
“Notably, McDonald Murholme has also been called upon a number of times by the Australian Financial Review and The Australian, to comment on various issues facing the legal industry – such as the issues being faced by other legal practices.”
In addition, McDonald Murholme prides itself in being a leader in the employment law field by not only assisting clients but also educating the public through its free online resource: Employment Law Online (ELO) (www.employmentlawonline.com.au).
ELO is structured in a question and answer style format, which provides easy to read access to some
of the most common issues seen in Australian workplaces. Many clients utilise this website to empower themselves with some initial knowledge and revert back to McDonald Murholme when required.
Within the wider legal industry currently, the largest of the law firms have felt the pressure to amalgamate with larger overseas law firms. This has disempowered and frustrated many local lawyers, who feel that they are working for large international corporates with less say over their own personal futures.
Not all of the global mergers have been successful and even those deemed a success have not delivered substantial increases in incomes for Australian lawyers.
“Some mid-sized law firms have expanded strongly while a few of the very small law firms have gone out of business altogether,” states Mr McDonald. “This combined has created valuable business opportunity for our firm to consistently grow at a rate of more than 25% per annum over recent years.”
Looking to the future, McDonald Murholme is eager to capitalise on this growth, and as such has recently expanded to South Australia, opening an office in the Adelaide CBD. This venture has allowed South Australian residents to access experienced employment lawyers who are able to provide legal advice and strategy to make these laws work for them.
Ultimately, McDonald Murholme is focussed on outcomes and has a well-known reputation for doing so. It will meet the market as required in terms of pursuing a claim to its best outcome, even if doing so means offering a very competitive price.