Good luck to all the law firms self-nominating for NZ Lawyer Magazine’s Employer of Choice Award. I have been asked to forward on this late entry. You too can enter using this form.
Herring Bai Aviel is a 250 lawyer, full service law firm with glass-ceilinged offices in Auckland, Wellington and Mosgiel. Our guiding philosophy is to hasten business and quicken enterprise, hence our motto: “HBA: Fast-Forward The Commercial”. Our alumni include an Attorney-General from the 1970s and a High Court judge appointed in the 1980s, the names of whom not even we recall. Our clients are drawn from the ranks of the more rapacious extractive industries, greenwashed carbon emitters, the hair-triggered, the embittered formerly-relevant, the deep of pocket, and anyone with gold-plated indemnity insurance.
Our partnership, most of whom were admitted in the 1960s, are excited about this opportunity to compete for the employer of choice award. In particular, the idea that employers themselves apply for this award (rather than NZ Lawyer Magazine asking employees) is a lightweight exercise in branding that HBA is proud to say accords with its longheld values. Below, we address the required criteria.
Like many large firms, we are definitely not part of a quasi-cartel paying our junior solicitors on bands that are identical with our competitors. We pay our employees in a combination of Les Mills memberships, complimentary cheese and crackers and, where necessary to comply with employment laws, New Zealand dollars. Pay levels are set by estimating firmwide gross yearly income, subtracting overheads, identifying how many swimming pools per partner the equity dividend needs to pay out that year, and then distributing the crumbs among the huddled masses of our employed solicitors based on favouritism and caprice.
Training and professional development
Every mistake is a learning opportunity. But we don’t make mistakes at HBA, which is a lucky coincidence because we don’t provide learning opportunities either. Instead we operate an internal program of continuing professional development focused on sharp billing practices, aggressive letter writing and shouting at secretaries. This is recorded on CPD registers as unconscious bias training.
We employ professional actors to provide references of completion for all CPD, should the New Zealand Law Society enquire.
There are always plenty of avenues for advancement at HBA. That is because our intermediates all leave when they realise there’s no way we’re letting them into the partnership. Happily, that means we aren’t lying when we tell our juniors that it’s likely that they’ll make associate in a couple of years.
Diversity and inclusion
Around here, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work, mainly when refusing their requests for time off. We don’t see colour, gender or sexuality in a bid to justify our extremely white partnership. We are happy to say that we were immune to the #MeToo scandal as 100% of our employed junior solicitors are straight white guys called Benedict that went to Kings College.
HBA’s commitment to Tikanga Māori is second to none. Early in our Te Ao Māori journey we made a promise we stand by to this day: no law firm in New Zealand will out-do us when it comes to shameless co-opting of whakatauki in corporate branding and email signatures. Talk about one sweet kumara, huh?
Access to technology and resources
At HBA we have a saying: Who lodges the most personal grievances? It is people. It is people. It is people. That is why we are part way through an innovative program to replace as many of our staff with computers that do not know about the Employment Relations Authority. This builds on last year’s work in Operation Discovery Coda to bring an end to discovery coders and replace them with an AI that now seems to control the building’s lights and air conditioning.
Work-life balance / health and well-being
Work life balance is important to HBA. Everyone agrees that work should be fun. At HBA we take this one step further and insist that fun should be work. After all, Billings is not just a city in Montana. Because HBA is about living your values, we think our staff should live in a way that promotes the value of our equity stakes. Staff are encouraged to spend their bus-rides, showers, and Saturday morning child sports spectation thinking about their files. In this way, HBA has a reputation for applying the cutting edge of legal practice to one’s personal life.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield describes leadership as a call to collective action. We agree (even if “collective action” sounds a bit uniony to us…). We exhibit leadership in every aspect of our practice. We were a market leader in switching from the billable six minute unit to the billable five minute unit. We were the ones to come up with the phrase “work hard and play hard”. We were the first in the industry to move on important social issues – by blaming Russell McVeagh for everything and then pretending that the Bazley Report fixed it all.
We operate a Twitter account that blandly posts links to our news page with no added value. Our LinkedIn page for some reason proudly shows group photos of our extremely white law clerks getting admitted. Over the last year we have focused on our communications and branding and now operate a five-person team dedicated to photoshopping out champagne flutes from pictures of admission
drinks functions. We are the largest ad buyer in the three most important media markets in the country: Hosking on ZB, NBR, and the noticeboard at Remuera New World. Our tightly controlled media game has led to our injunctions being praised as super.
Reward and recognition
Hard work is its own reward, especially at HBA where we have no rewards but plenty of hard work.
Our firm is open to all. Anyone can find a home here, whether you are rich, white and brilliant, or merely rich and white. Our summer clerk recruitment programme advertises exclusively in Martinborough and Waiheke Island. Our intermediate to senior lawyers are drawn from the ranks of defendants in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal. A recent survey of our staff confirmed that 95% of our ranks are classified by the Aotearoa Legal Workers Union as scabs.
Thank you for the consideration you have given this application. The partnership of Herring Bai Aviel looks forward to discussing its ad spend with you at your earliest convenience.