HBA Legal named Employer of Choice 2019
Defendant insurance law firm HBA Legal has been named one of Australia's best employers in the Australasian Lawyer 'Employer of Choice' Report for 2019.
To be recognised, firms were required to demonstrate the highest level of performance and excellence across 10 key areas:
- Training and professional development;
- Career progression;
- Diversity and inclusion;
- Work-life balance;
- Health and well-being;
- Reward and recognition; and
HBA Legal co-founder and Managing Director Brett Ablong said creating an environment in which people are happy and motivated to come to work had been quite deliberate.
"One of the most important things we set out to achieve when we started this firm eight years ago, was to create an environment that we would have liked to have worked in when we were starting our legal careers.
"Being a great employer is not about ticking boxes or simply having the right HR policies in place. Those things are important, but we believe to do this stuff well you need to have a holistic way of operating in regards to your people," he said.
"An example of this is our 'One HBA' business model that removes borders to draw on the skill and experience of our people across the country, wherever they sit in relation to the client and regardless of which Partner they technically report to.
"Our people love this approach because in an individual's early years in law, learning from a range of people rather than just one particular Partner provides so much more value in terms of personal growth," Ablong said.
HBA co-founder Nathan Hepple said the firm was currently formulating a plan to upskill its Partners and Senior Associates in being true 'people leaders'.
"Lawyers tend to rise up the career chain because they are excellent at their craft, but they often lack the skills to really lead a team successfully. It takes knowledge and know-how to be a good leader – it's not a skill we all have without training, yet it is a critical skill when a person reaches a certain level within an organisation.
"We recognise this and are committed to supporting senior staff to develop these essential skills," Hepple added.
Ensuring workloads are manageable is another key focus at HBA.
"One of the things I am most proud of is that by 5.30pm our offices have mainly cleared out and this is no accident and certainly not because of a lack of work," Hepple said.
"Keeping peoples' workloads 'in-check', to enable this, is a responsibility we take very seriously. That's not to say there are not times when certain cases require a little extra effort, and extra hours are invested, but it's the exception rather than the rule," he said.
Ablong noted that in the past 12 months alone, two former employees have returned to HBA Legal.
"These are people who left to diversify their experience, not because they hated life with us. But the fact that they have knocked on our door wanting to come back is something I take as an indication that we are doing something right and I'm proud of that."
One of HBA's core values is to be generous and this doesn't just apply to how it treats its clients.
"Many firms have a habit of giving their people $100 gift cards at Christmas time, or similar. That's lovely of course, but we think the gift of time in today's busy modern world is even more value," Hepple explained.
"Leading up to Christmas, we give our people what we call 'HBA Day' which is essentially a free day off for which they don't need to take annual leave.
"This equates to a cost to the business of over $25,000 when we take into account wages costs only not lost revenue for that day, but we are happy to do it because we see our people as our most valuable asset.
"One of our team members told me recently how much they love HBA Day because it enables her to get the Christmas shopping done without her kids around and without eating into family time on the weekend," Hepple said.
The Employer of Choice accolade comes hot off the heels of Doyle's Guide announcing the leading defendant insurance law firms. HBA was named among the top WA law firms in the following defendant categories:
- Workers' Compensation Law Firm
- Compulsory Third Party Insurance Law Firm
- Medical Negligence & Malpractice Law Firms
- Public and Product Liability Law Firms