Law Firms are Still Businesses Featuring Andy from Mahlab

I had the pleasure of interviewing Andy Yang from Mahlab, a leading executive search firm for legal professionals. He is from Gen Y and talks to a lot of Gen Y professionals in law. Below is his bio.


andy yang


I specialise in private practice and international legal recruitment, focusing on top tier, mid tier and boutique practices. As Consultant, I assist with career placement and management services, along with assisting in executive search assignments in private and in-house practices. During my time in private practice, I established valuable relationships and networks, along with an understanding of the legal market, allowing me to successfully source and place lawyers at all levels. 

I have had prior experience at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, where I obtained experience in Employment and Industrial Laws. I have a combined degree in Business and Law with Honours from the University of Technology, Sydney.





It was the first time I talked to a legal specialist recruitment firm, and I was given a glimpse of how they operate. For the discussion I had with Andy, I will break apart topics to bring clarity to issues that were important.

Here he describes how law firms operate.


At the end of the day law firms are businesses

Our primary clients are among the largest Australian and international law firms and corporations. What you need to understand is that legal firms and corporations are businesses. Their competitive advantage is their people, and they want to be able to deliver the best legal service. The best way to provide excellent legal service is by employing technically skilled lawyers who also bring strong communication and relationship management skills as well. The top firms are willing to pay for the best lawyers.


That is why client management skills for lawyers are necessary whether you are looking to work for legal firms or in-house.

You need to be able to develop and manage relationships with clients and ensure that it is a professionally rewarding relationship.

From my other interviews with HR & recruitment professionals and articles I’ve written, soft skills are essential for careers in law according to Andy.


Soft skills and your legal career

Soft skills are as important in legal roles as they are important in other professional positions.
Being technically skilled is not enough. Clients generally seek lawyers who are not only technically sound but also have the ability to meet business objectives and help with growth.

The ability to understand a customer, their needs and to develop and maintain a relationship is critical to a lawyer’s success. By developing strong relationships, lawyers are able to build a practice, their reputation, and develop their technical skills and the firm’s brand. Soft skills enable people to develop and progress their careers faster and more effectively than those who are technicians.


Below Andy shares tips for Gen Y that are still studying or are graduates with legal backgrounds.

I would recommend current students to gain experience in a legal or legally related role so that they understand firstly what the role of a lawyer entails, and second, how the legal practice market is. It provides law students and graduates training usually not offered by legal studies. It enhances their CVs, and it also allows them to hone in on their soft skills in dealing and managing clients/people.

Law students should also gain internships in large corporations because it will give them a better understanding of how businesses operate. It is also a good avenue for those lawyers ultimately wishing to go into a business.


For graduates, broaden your horizons. There are many other opportunities besides legal firms such as government agencies and corporations that need legal personnel. Gaining experience and moving on to working in big legal firms is a valid option.

Another option is to undertake further studies whether it be a course dedicated to practice in a specific area of law, or even undertaking company secretarial and governance qualifications. Deciding to work in the legal profession is not limited to private practice. Working in-house as lawyers or assistant company secretaries is often overlooked by graduate lawyers.


Volunteering in roles where you can gain experience in client management or managing people is also a great way to boost your value.



Below is his view of legal recruitment. For anyone searching for a career in law, you need to know how recruiters operate in your particular niche to reap the opportunities recruiters can bring to the table.


Andy’s views on the trends of legal recruitment

Legal employers are now using a number of different ways to reach candidates. It may be direct to law schools, candidate referrals, LinkedIn and internet jobs boards. However, recruiters continue to play a significant role in sourcing candidates with specific skillsets.


As mentioned before, client management and soft skills are paramount. It is one of the various skills that recruiters look for in legal candidates.

What legal recruiters search for are not only technical skills, but also experiences in managing people, and how entrepreneurial/commercial you are. Good candidates for our clients are typically good lawyers with business sense and strong communication skills.



Andy shares some insight for Gen Y on how to approach recruitment firms for lawyers.

Graduate lawyers should utilise their university careers counsellors to provide guidance on avenues they may wish to pursue in their careers. Recruiters can be a very useful resource. We can assist lawyers in managing their careers, advise on opportunities, market trends, salaries, and also use our networks to open doors.


So Gen Y professionals should view working with recruiters in the legal and professional services space as a long term relationship. Think of it as an advisory role. At Mahlab, we act as consultants and work with lawyers as career managers. We have placed lawyers in numerous positions over their careers, offering career advice and roles to match their career goals with organisations that cater to their needs.
So think of recruiters in law as a long-term relationship, where we will help you find opportunities to kick start your career and find opportunities to grow together as well as advise on how to manage and progress your career.


Here is Andy’s last piece of advice for Gen Y.

First, it is important to keep an open mind. As mentioned before, lawyers can work in various functions within law firms and corporations, so don’t narrow your options down.

Further, given how interconnected we are in the digital age, graduates and lawyers alike should canvass internet jobs boards and the websites of potential employers they would like to work for. It will give them a better understanding of opportunities and the market.


Thanks Andy for your time and insight on the legal recruitment side of things. Please check out Andy and Mahlab on their home page,


What did you think? How is your legal career progressing?

Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

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