Contract lawyers go global: Pinsent Masons exports Vario to Australia

Pinsent Masons is launching its flexible resourcing service Vario in Australia, marking its first outpost outside the UK.

Vario will be up and running within the next three to six months and will operate out of the firm’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Pinsent Masons officially opened its doors in Australia in 2015 after hiring infrastructure disputes partner Peter Megens from King & Spalding.

The Vario team will comprise of three senior members to help facilitate the growth of the business. It will also rely on the larger UK team to provide administrative support.

Director of Vario Matthew Kay said, “A lot of the work we do in Australia is infrastructure-related so we will be focusing on that to start with. The breadth of work that Pinsent Masons is picking up out of the Australia office is broadening so we will look to mirror that spread of work in the future.”

The firm recently overhauled the senior management of its flexible resource service, appointing former TMP Worldwide director of business development Matthew Kay as the new head of Vario.

Kay replaces Pinsents partner Alison Bond, who along with Katherine Thomas, was the co-founder of the contract lawyer service. Both Bond and Thomas have left the firm and run consultancy businesses.

Australia is expected to be the first stage in Vario’s international expansion, with other locations expected to benefit from the service in the future.

“We are actively looking at the next location and in particular where the biggest need is from the firm’s point of view coupled with ease of entry. Some jurisdictions are more open to the freelance model than others,” Kay added.

Vario will join a number of other similar services already operating out of the region, including Allen & Overy’s Peerpoint, Crowd & Co and Lawyers on Demand. However, Kay sees this as a positive factor.

“The Australian market is fairly mature when it comes to the freelance model, which is a good thing as it means the market understands how to use the freelance service,” Kay said.

He added that Pinsents’ work in the infrastructure sector in Australia gives it a strong base from which to build on.

“We will play to that strength that will then help with the recruiting process to take on the kind of lawyers we need. Over time we will look to grow in a similar fashion to our UK hubs,” Kay explained.

Since launching in 2012, Vario now has over 300 legal personnel and saw a revenue increase of 40 per cent in 2015/16.

The Australia offices are led by Melbourne-based partner David Rennick. 

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