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Every kind of people: Tal Williams

As time goes on and the legal profession crystallizes, veteran practitioners have found themselves faced with a need to specialize.

In the past, a lawyer might handle family, criminal and corporate legal matters for their client base, but no longer. While other industries are scrambling to become ‘one-stop shops’, law firms are instead marking out very distinct territory and sticking to it.

“Clients expect you to have a degree of specialization,” says Tal Williams, a Partner at Holman Webb Lawyers, a commercial and insurance law firm that has taken those expectations and run with them.

“If you’re a good operator, you’re a good operator, and that’s it.”

A medium-tier firm in terms of size, Holman Webb Lawyers uses its considerable experience and agility to deliver top-tier service to clients. On top of that, Holman Webb Lawyers prioritizes diversity, sustainability and support for the community, qualities that attracted Williams to the firm.

The team at Holman Webb Lawyers

Diversity: a part of the DNA

“Holman Webb Lawyers prides itself on the fact that staff wellbeing, diversity and inclusion are important to us,” he says. “Even when I joined in 2011, this firm had those qualities and general attitudes, but we’ve emphasized them very much more in the last few years.”

Of Holman Webb Lawyers’ 67 solicitors, 37 are female, as are 10 (44 percent) of its partners. “And were working towards a 50-50 split in that regard,” Williams adds.

Twenty languages are spoken throughout the company. Of the eight-person leadership team, six are women. “I think that’s been a real positive for us,” Williams says.

He’s not alone; in 2023, Holman Webb Lawyers was awarded the Ellect Star for Outstanding Achievement in Gender Equality in Business Leadership, while Chief Operating and Financial Officer Magdalena Kosior-Molloy was named as one of Australasian Lawyer’s Elite Women that same year.

“We’ve got a very high proportion of diversity. If you’re a good operator, you’re a good operator, and that’s it. I think that does stand us apart from a lot of law firms,” Williams says.

“As far as pure law, we provide services our clients are attracted to and are comfortable with, and we do it very well, but I think the way we treat our people and the way we’re more enthused about the trusted advisor position that we take with our clients versus being a mere provider of legal services sets us apart.”

Williams leads Holman Webb Lawyers’ Business, Corporate and Commercial team, which works with an eclectic mix of multinationals, SMEs, startups, government departments and not-for-profits. The team provides expert advice on a wide range of business operating agreements, from online T&Cs to complex joint venture agreements.

“Leadership and management are two different things.”

“It’s a team of four partners,” he says. “One looks after anything to do with property; we have a partner who is banking and finance; we have a transactional corporate and commercial partner, so buying and selling large enterprises and general corporate advice. Basically, if it comes across your desk in business, we’re happy to have a look at it for you.”

Williams’ own area of expertise is tech. “I love data, cyber, 3D printing and the issues attached to that data control,” he says. “It’s all about applying old law to new mediums. It’s often said that the law is behind on tech matters and has to catch up; not true. It’s just that no one’s actually taken certain issues to court. When they do, the law will apply and everything will work out.”

The team at Holman Webb Lawyers

Collaboration: the key to success

One by-product of the diversity in play at Holman Webb Lawyers is collaboration. “The team is friendly, supportive and cooperative,” he says. “There’s a lack of ego, for want of a better word. If an issue comes to me and I know there’s someone in the team that can give the client the best possible outcome, I’ll hand it over. That makes for stickier clients because they appreciate the service they’re getting.”

As a result, Williams estimates Holman Webb Lawyers resolves 80 percent of matters before they reach court. “And even then, we probably resolve another 90 percent of the remaining 20 percent,” he says.

For Williams, Holman Webb Lawyers is akin to a soccer team. “You have people very good at scoring goals, people who are great in the midfield, people who are strong motivators,” he says. “You have to have a team of different skills and qualities, because that team can do very well.”

Leadership of such a team, he says, comes down to a strong managerial sense. “Leadership and management are two different things. The way I see it, we’re a team, we’re working together, and we kick the ball to whoever can do it best. You’re as important in that chain as the person who scores the goals.”