What it does: Commercial law
Staff stats: Around 1200 staff and 130 partners throughout the Asia-Pacific region
The good bits: Excellent training
The not so good bits: Huge hours, lots of pressure
The Allens story
Allens is one of Australia’s Big Six law firms. It’s also the nation’s oldest continuous legal partnership and, arguably, the most prestigious. Former employees include the likes of Liberal PM Sir William McMahon, long-serving World Bank president James Wolfensohn, ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie and TV star Andrew O’Keefe.
The practice was launched in Sydney in 1822 and developed into a firm know as Allen Allen & Hemsley. Over the following decades, it became the default option for any Australian plutocrat facing legal issues. The firm acted for the banks when the post-war Labour government attempted to nationalise them and has had Westpac as a client for 160 years. It’s also provided legal advice to both Sir Frank Packer and his son Kerry. Senior Partner Sir Norman Cowper, the David Gonski of his time, expanded into the Asian market decades before others had realised the potential of the region. In 2012, Allens partnered with ‘Magic Circle’ law firm Linklaters resulting in an “integrated alliance” of 39 offices in 28 countries.
Allens is a signatory to the Law Council of Australia’s Diversity and Equality Charter. It was one of the first Australian organisations to become a signatory to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. It has been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as an Employer of Choice for gender equality. Since 2011, it has had a LGBTI network – ALLin – that facilitates LGBTI staff building relationships with each other and providing pro bono assistance to the wider LGBTI community.
Allens has been offering Indigenous legal internships since 2006 and 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students have now completed one. In 2009, Allens became the first top-tier Australian law firm to launch a Reconciliation Action Plan.
Allens might historically have been associated with conservative politicians and captains of industry but it has an impressive record in the field of social justice. In 2016, it provided over 7000 hours of pro bono hours to homelessness-related matters, 3900 to asylum-seeker projects and 2500 to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals. That year it also cut its Australian offices’ greenhouse gas emissions by 8.6 per cent and donated to 29 charities. Allens was the first Australian firm to be carbon neutral.
The recruitment process
It’s useful to have done one of Allens’ clerkship programs if you’re planning on applying to its grad program. These typically run for either five or ten weeks during university holidays. The application process involves submitting an online application, attending an information evening/cocktail party and sitting one or two rounds of interviews, depending on which state. The grad program recruitment process follows the same format.
Allens can afford to be choosy. It chooses candidates who display intellectual rigour, innovative thinking, initiative, resilience and a solid understanding of the commercial environment its clients must navigate.
The grad program consists of two 12-month rotations. During the program, you are supported by a a performance coach and a buddy. They have a non-siloed approach, meaning you’ll get to work with many people rather than being stuck reporting to just one partner. You’ll complete both a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and Allen’s Cornerstone program. This is a series of practical legal seminars run by partners and senior lawyers.
To apply, visit the Allens Linklaters graduate website.
As a grad you can expect to earn somewhere between $75,000 - $82,000 and almost double that once you’re a senior associate. If you make partner, the sky’s the limit. If you’re working late – and you will be – you can look forward to chef-prepared dinners and taxi vouchers. Other perks include free gym memberships, lots of wining and dining and discounts on various retail and travel products.
After you’ve completed the grad program you can expect to be promoted to associate level in 2-3 years. How fast you rise after that and whether you ultimately make partner will be determined by performance (i.e. achieving clear KPIs) as well as the needs of the business. Whatever may have been the case in the past, Allens now has a diverse workforce and functions as a meritocracy.
The vibe of the place
You can expect to be surrounded by driven over-achievers and there is a clear hierarchy but the culture is nonetheless supportive and inclusive. Especially as a junior, you can expect to spend plenty of time socialising with your colleagues out of hours, either at the pub or through Social Club activities.
Star Rating: 4.2 stars
From the employer:
"This is a time of unprecedented change. At Allens, we’re ready. With a legacy that spans 200 years, we’ve pioneered significant change. It’s a part of who we are.
Our people go further to support our clients, using sharp commercial insight and creativity to enrich long‑standing relationships and build new ones. We go further for each other and our community, too. We’re people you want to work with: we're generous with our time and ready to help. No matter what the future holds, we’re in it together. With us, you’ll be one step ahead. Great change is here. Are you ready?
Working together and working together well; there’s an important difference. It’s a given that we work on complex multi-jurisdictional projects across Australia and the world through our strategic alliance with Linklaters. But it’s how we do it that makes us different. We work as one team, collaborating across practice areas and disciplines to solve complex problems and build great relationships. It’s what makes Allens a great place to work.
Our people play a huge part in our success. We attract and develop exceptional talent and we welcome diversity and individuality. You’ll be given opportunities to grow, learn and succeed, but it’s up to you to make the most of them. We’re well aware that your job satisfaction and our success go hand in hand. So, you’ll be involved in high-profile, complex work for leading Australian and international organisations. We’ll provide the very best training throughout your career, with feedback and support at every stage. And we’ll reward your commitment to learning with the flexibility to drive your own career.
Together, we’ll ensure you exceed what you imagined you were capable of, and deliver the excellent service our clients deserve.
The world is changing more rapidly than ever before, presenting businesses with complex local and global challenges. At Allens, we’re trusted business partners as well as legal advisers. We use our technical knowledge to support our clients, but it’s our strategic insight and in-depth experience that allows us to guide them forward.
Work with us and you’ll discover it’s our approach that sets us apart as much as our expertise. We’re supportive, open-minded, and passionate. With a deep understanding of our clients, we grasp problems from every angle and we’ll do whatever it takes to find a solution. It’s that unwavering commitment that continually builds our expertise, and ensures we sustain long-term client relationships. While our history proves what we’re capable of, we’re not complacent either. We will continue to shape the future with our clients, our people and our communities.
Innovation in action
In our rapidly changing world, our clients – and our own people – expect us to keep evolving to stay a step ahead. We’re entrepreneurial in spirit, driven to go beyond setting legal precedents and cutting‑edge work. We seek out ways to do things differently and embrace innovative ideas. Then we create tools that bring our thinking to life, using emerging technology to solve real‑world problems. We’re focused on advancing the legal industry through equipping our people with the skills and experience they need to be the lawyers of the future.
We encourage people from across the firm to work on the development of new technologies and processes. This approach does more than benefit our clients. New tools and ways of working enhance our own capability, allowing us to assist on increasingly complex matters.
A strategic partnership
Our alliance with Linklaters provides enormous opportunity for our people to accelerate their careers. Join us and you’ll be part of a global network. You’ll work alongside some of the best lawyers in the world and be involved in some of the most significant legal matters – both on the global stage and close to home. While both Allens and Linklaters excel in their markets, we are stronger together. Having international counterparts allows us to experience new things, develop new thinking and constantly evolve.
At Allens, we use our position to give back to our community. We stand up for what we believe in and strive to make a real difference. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because we are truly motivated by positive change. You’ll find individuals and teams across the firm committed to providing access to justice, alleviating disadvantage, promoting reconciliation and protecting the environment. Join us and you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to important causes and create your own great change.
Dive In is an introductory program that provides you with some of the skills needed to apply for a clerkship, paralegal position or internship. You’ll get a taste of life in commercial law at a top-tier
firm. You’ll get insight into the type of work you can expect, details about our business and
areas of practice, plus practical tips for preparing for work in a large law firm.
For a head start in your career, apply for a clerkship in our Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney office.
You’ll work with some of the most experienced lawyers in Australia and experience first-hand the type of work you could do as a lawyer with us. You’ll get to work as part of a team on real matters for our clients. If you’re driven and make the most of the opportunity and get to know our people, you’ll thrive during a clerkship with us. Your development supervisor and buddy will be there to support you and help you grow.
Our clerkship program is a stepping stone to bigger things. Many clerks go on to become graduates with us.
Join our graduate program and embark on a journey of lifelong professional development. You’re in control of your own learning, so you’ll have the flexibility to drive your career with your development supervisor and performance coach as ongoing support.
During the graduate program, you’ll learn from some of the sharpest legal minds in Australia. As a graduate, you’ll complete two 12-month rotations in different practice areas. We don’t work in silos, so you won’t be limited to working with only one partner or by your practice areas. There’s no substitute for the depth of insight that comes from working with different teams. You’ll work on complex transactions with leading organisations. And you’ll have the opportunity to apply for an international secondment to London, Hong Kong or Singapore via our Linklaters alliance.
You’ll benefit from the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, which is an 18-week program that will help you transition from law student to practitioner. You'll also have access to practical legal seminars during our Cornerstone program, an online learning portal, a personalised induction program, and on- the- job training to unlock your potential. We’ll work with you to build a strong foundation of skills and develop the agility needed to become an excellent lawyer and thrive in our ever-changing world.
Where strength meets depth – our areas of practice
With high-profile clients and exceptionally complex transactions, we need to have a deep understanding of many areas.
We use this to our advantage, bringing lawyers from different teams together to provide a wide range of expertise and experience, including:
- Banking & Finance
- Competition, Consumer & Regulatory
- Corporate, including:
- Funds, Super & Wealth
- Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets
- Technology, Media & Telecommunications
- Disputes and Investigations, including:
- Commercial Disputes
- Employment & Safety
- Restructuring & Insolvency
- Intellectual Property and Patent & Trademark Attorneys
- Projects & Development, including:
- Real Estate & Development
Deep industry expertise
We’re business partners as well as lawyers. This means we’re committed to understanding sector-specific commercial challenges as well as legal requirements. While our work spans many sectorsand industry areas, we’re committed to continuous learning. So we’re able to provide our clients with strategically led legal expertise.
Our specialist sectors include:
- Banks and Financial Institutions
- Industrials (including Agribusiness)
- Infrastructure & Transport
- Oil & Gas
- Power & Utilities
- Real Estate
- Technology, Media &Telecommunications
Ready for great change?
Visit our careers website for more on working at Allens, upcoming events, and how to apply."