Flat Shoes and Tattoos

Written by Alison Dart – National General Manager

What do you do when you have secured an interview for a professional services firm but you never wear heels and even more perplexing what do you do with your visible cool university tattoo

Do you pretend to be some else or should you be open about who you are?

The answer is yes and no, not helpful then let me explain

Flat shoes are very acceptable, they need to be presentable and in good condition, so no trainers, espadrilles or lace up sandals

Presentable and in good condition means, closed toe flats a preferably in a neutral tone that matches your outfit, think Black, navy, neutral and clean.

But what about that tattoo? Yes cover it up!

You can tell your new team how cool you are later, if you want the job you need to cover it up for now.

Wear an opaque stocking to the interview if it is visible on your leg and be prepared to wear pants and stockings once you secure that job! On your arm then wear a long sleeve blouse.

Professional services firms are conservative and don’t often endorse the freewheeling, open ideals of the tattoo generation.

While I am on the topic can I also add some advice for

Nail polish …make sure it is a neutral colour , not black or bright blue

Piercings …. Take them out unless it is a simple earring


An interview is not the time to show your alternative fashion sense , it is the time to present a more conservative version and keep you’re your fashion personality for the weekend or casual Friday.

How to tell if it’s time for a new job

If you’re no longer going into work with a smile on your face and a skip in your step and the thought of talking to your boss one more time makes you think about staying in bed, it might be time to look for a new job.

Understanding why you want to leave a job is important in terms of how to go about looking for a new one. Here are some of the signs it’s time to move on:changes ahead

  • You start being late to work every day – having trouble getting out of bed, unless there’s a medical reason, is a sign that there’s a certain lack of enthusiasm for going to work, and it might seriously be time to ask yourself why.
  • You don’t smile as much anymore – being miserable at work is not only no fun for you but it’s no fun for your work colleagues either. If you struggle to find enjoyment at work, even with your colleagues, then it’s not just a phase, it’s time for a new adventure.
  • You’re always critical – if you are constantly critical of management decisions or anything to do with work, then that is a big sign that you’re disengaged and unless you can find a way to re‑engage with your employer, it’s best you find that engagement elsewhere.
  • You find work boring – if you’re doing the same things over and over again, think about whether there is an opportunity to learn new skills or if you need to go elsewhere to do that. Oftentimes supervisors will take the “path of least resistance” and give you work because you’re a “safe pair of hands”. Try talking to your supervisor to get a different sort of work and if that doesn’t or can’t change then say farewell and head off somewhere else.
  • You actively dislike your work colleagues – if you have nothing in common with your work colleagues, including your supervisor, and you have started to dislike them as people, then it’s not about them, it’s about you. Don’t torture yourself with trying to like them or get them to like you – do yourself a favour and find enjoyment elsewhere.
  • Your values don’t align – this sounds incredibly deep but in fact it’s not. A good example is someone who cares very deeply about social justice, and would like to do work for the marginalised in society and really values pro bono work but the corporate organisation they work for, won’t give time to you to give back to the community. Your values and the organisation’s values do not align and it’s a recipe for disaster. You’ll become more and more miserable and need to find somewhere where your values are aligned.
  • You’ve been sitting on the same salary for three years – global financial crisis or not, if you’ve stagnated salary wise while the cost of living has increased, that’s a sign that you’re not being valued. Unless an honest conversation doesn’t fix the issue, you will in all likelihood receive a higher salary if you go elsewhere.

Everyone gets itchy feet from time to time – but you need to ask yourself if it is just itchy feet or something more serious. It is said that the current generation of young employees get those itchy feet sooner than previous generations. No longer are people with the same organisation their whole working lives. Like marriages, which end in divorce, employment relationships eventually tire and, like divorce, it may be as simple as “irreconcilable differences” rather than one thing that causes you to want to leave.

And of course, when you’re ready to move on, we would be delighted to help you!


Slow recovery but steady improvement

Thankfully, with an improved outlook, business confidence has increased over the last 4 consecutive quarters.    M&A work has more than doubled, and employment for junior lawyers is also forecast to improve.

Here are the figures to give you renewed faith in the legal market.

Quarterly legal confidence

The quarterly legal confidence survey compiled by the Commonwealth Bank and Beaton Research & Consulting shows that business confidence among law firm leaders is still in negative territory but is now at its highest point since July of last year and has been improving for 4 consecutive quarters.    Those surveyed included the leaders of 30 law firms – 8 top-tier practices and 22 mid-tier practices.

% of firms who believe that business conditions are negative is as follows:-

  • 17% October 2014;
  • 23% in July 2014;
  • 28% in April 2014;
  • 43% in November 2013;
  • 70% in July of 2013.

While it is a slow recovery, there is a steady improvement.


Australia has become the second biggest/most active market for Corporate/M&A deals in the Asia-Pacific region, after China.  The Australian market accounted for almost a quarter of the M&A deals completed in the Asia-Pacific.  The recovery in M&A work has contributed to a big improvement in business confidence at the most senior levels of the nation’s lead law firms.  The M&A work has more than doubled in value compared to last year, and the value of completed mergers and acquisitions within Australia in the 9 months to October more than doubled to the same period last year.

Many of the recent transactions have a cross-border element and another noteable aspect was the return of private equity.

A Partner from HerbertSmith Freehills has said it is the strongest start to the year since records began in the Asia-Pacific – a return of the “bold/strategic type M&A” rather than deals that were triggered by corporate distress.

Many positive deals are now part of people’s forward-thinking and strategic planning.     For the first time, activity is being seen in M&A across a range of sectors and from different buyers.

The top-tier firms are the main beneficiaries from the increase in M&A.

Other areas of law/improvement

Despite the boom in M&A, revenue is expected to only improve over the next 6 months in just 6 of the 15 surveyed practice areas.   The biggest decline in revenue is expected in insolvency and restructuring.

The improved outlook for law firms was in line with what was happening in Canada and the US.    Corporates are cashed up again and there are opportunities to gain market share and rationalise industries at that phase in the cycle.  Most firms expect Partner and Senior Associate numbers to grow at a slower rate over the next 6 months (primarily due to a more cautious approach to hiring at top-tier practices).    Top-tier firms expect no change in equity partner numbers in the next 6 months and believe they will continue to reduce the number of salaried partners and Senior Associates.

Junior Lawyers

There is strong improvement in the employment outlook for junior lawyers – 50% of firms expect to increase the number of lawyers with up to 3 years of experience (up from 39% in July of 2014).  Of those 50% of law firms, 55% of mid-tiers and 38% of top-tiers expect to be hiring.