What it does: Corporate law firm
Staff stats: Over 500 staff in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth offices
The good bits: Challenging work, lots of diversity
The not so good bits: High-pressure environment, long hours
The Gilbert + Tobin story
In 1988, Danny Gilbert and Tony Tobin established a corporate law firm in Sydney. In 2011, the firm merged with the Perth-based firm Blakiston & Crabb. These days, Gilbert + Tobin provides legal services to large corporate and government clients throughout both Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
The firm concentrates on areas such as banking and infrastructure; corporate advisory – funds, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, capital markets, tax and stamp duty; communications and technology; competition and regulation; energy and resources; intellectual property; media; litigation and dispute resolution; and real estate and projects.
A third of Gilbert + Tobin partners are women, one of the highest proportions of any major Australian law firm. Almost two-thirds of all the firm’s staff are women. The firm aims to look after female employees by providing an industry-leading paid parental leave policy, part-time and job-share opportunities, remote-working arrangements, flexible working hours and on-site family rooms. Since 2012, the firm has had an LBGTI allies group called OUT. This raises awareness and advocates on LGBTI issues within the firm and the community. Gilbert + Tobin has been recognised as one of the top performers in Australia in relation to LGBTI inclusion.
Gilbert + Tobin has long been acknowledged for their commitment to providing pro bono services. In 1996, it was the first Australian firm to put a full-time pro bono lawyer on staff.
The firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility program focuses on community, reconciliation and the environment. The program informs the firm’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact, recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and provide legal advice to members of the community who might not otherwise be able to access it. The firm has both a Reconciliation Action Plan and an Indigenous Cadetship Program. It also supports a range of community organisations.
The recruitment process
Gilbert + Tobin recruits students in their penultimate year to undertake a clerkship. (You need to apply for this through cvMail.) These clerkships can last from 2-10 weeks depending on when and where they are undertaken.
Those who’ve completed a clerkship can apply for a position in the 18-month graduate program. This involves several rotations that will involve you working closely with lawyers and partners. You’ll be actively involved in matters pertaining to your practice area. You’ll be provided with profession development opportunities, as well as the chance to assist with pro bono work. You’ll get a mentor to guide you through your rotations and transition into a practice area. You’ll also be assigned a buddy, who will provide more informal support and advice as you adjust to your role at Gilbert + Tobin.
Your experience may differ depending on whether you’re based at the Melbourne, Perth or Sydney office but all grads undertake (firm-funded) Practical Legal Training through the College of Law, as well as training to develop their practical and commercial skills.
Gilbert + Tobin is known for paying salaries at the top end of the market to attract the best talent. Some, though not all, grads also receive bonuses. There are taxi vouchers and food put on if you work late, as well free or heavily subsidised entry to sporting and social events. You might also get to experience some fine dining at lunches and dinners with clients.
Gilbert + Tobin is big enough to matter but small enough that you won’t feel like just another face in the crowd. You may find it a particularly supportive employer if you’re female, LGBTI or Indigenous.
Regardless of their background, Gilbert + Tobin encourages its lawyers to keep improving their technical, legal and business skills. It helps them manage Continuing Professional Development (CPD) compliance by holding regular events that attract CPD points. Lawyers wishing to undertake postgraduate education are encouraged to do so and a $10,000 scholarship is awarded each year. Past winners have used the money to study at universities such as Oxford, Harvard and Stanford. While Gilbert + Tobin is based in Australia, secondments are available to work at similar firms overseas. The firm is a meritocracy so talent and hard work is the key to advancement.
The vibe of the place
It’s a work hard, play hard atmosphere. As with any law firm, you’ll be expected to rack up the billable hours but there are also plentiful opportunities to participate in social, charity and sporting events. Teamwork and co-operation are emphasised and the firm is less hierarchical than many of its competitors.
Star Rating: 4.4 stars
From the Employer:
"If you share our ambition to be the best, Gilbert + Tobin will place you on that trajectory.
We employ a diverse mix of talented and ambitious people who are attracted to the firm because of its entrepreneurial spirit, creative approach and capacity for change. These are the reasons we enjoy a reputation as the most successful corporate law firm to emerge in Australia in many years.
We advise many of Australia’s and the world’s leading organisations and focus on the most dynamic sectors. Our clients and projects span Australia, Asia and emerging African markets.
Each year we recruit a number of penultimate year students to undertake a seasonal clerkship in our Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offices, to get a taste of what it’s like to work in corporate law. You’ll have access to partners and lawyers working on market-leading transactions and matters to help you decide whether this is the place where you’ll launch your career as a graduate.
Gilbert + Tobin values diversity and individuality, so we don’t just look for strong academic results. We’re looking for candidates who are interesting people, can clearly demonstrate their ambition, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and ability to collaborate. To learn more about our opportunities for students, please visit our careers page."