Kalus Kenny Intelex focuses on people first, partner says

In the past 18 months, the firm introduced several initiatives to prioritise staff wellbeing and security

Kalus Kenny Intelex focuses on people first, partner says

Kalus Kenny Intelex (KKI) has shown that whether in a brand-new office or during the height of working from home, it is a law firm that remains true to its goal of being a people-first firm. Partner Henry Kalus sat down with Australasian Lawyer to talk about the firm’s people-centric initiatives over the past year.

“Reflecting on the past 18 months, our greatest achievement was the confirmation that we are actually who we have always said we are,” Kalus says. “It’s easy to aim high when talking about values, but it’s a different thing altogether to live those values.”

When COVID-19 thrust KKI into working-from-home just a few months after its relocation to a new office at Riverside Quay in Southbank, the firm’s message to its employees and to clients was “business as usual.”

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“At the beginning of the pandemic we wrote to our staff and told them that they were in safe hands; they would not lose their jobs. We had been through adversity before in our lives, and if we needed to, the owners would inject funding into the firm to get it through whatever was coming,” Kalus explains. “Our view was that the last thing people should worry about was their jobs. This allowed them to focus on their lives without stress and to focus on our clients without distraction.”

Throughout the pandemic period, KKI focused on using online tools like Whatsapp to stay connected to one another. Groups were created for staff to be able to joke around, share their interests and experiences and engage in collective activities like cooking.

From March to December 2020, the firm also released a weekly company-wide email dubbed The Wrap that Kalus describes as “authentic and from the heart.”

“It was short, at times irreverent, often not very politically correct and sometimes a little silly,” Kalus shares. “It always finished with the truth – that we were doing fine for a very simple but important reason – our people,” he explains.

Moreover, KKI implemented an employee assistance program where staff could seek professional counselling confidentially. Care packages that included food were also sent to all employees, and the firm granted two days of paid “recharge” leave to staff.

During the second lockdown in Melbourne, KKI gifted each staff member an additional $1,500 to spend on “whatever made them happy.”

This people-first focus extended to the firm’s client base as well.

“Clients have depended on us to have the answers and we have been talking to them throughout the pandemic,” Kalus says. “We ramped up our marketing communications – both with social media activity and direct emails to targeted segments of clients and referrers.  It was critical that we kept them up to date with the dynamic legal environment, particularly around commercial leasing.”

Last year, he adds, the firm “joined the International Legal Network as its sole Australian member in order to offer more scope to add value and guidance to the firm’s clients.” The firm also checked in with clients on a personal level, sending grazing boxes to catch up with clients over “nibbles and drinks.”

He explains that growth has never been the firm’s goal, but rather it is a by-product of its high standards.

“We have always been confident that if we invest in and look after our staff and our clients, that growth and financial reward would come. And it has,” Kalus says.

Looking to the future, he sees every milestone and achievement as an added foundation from which to build.

“Realising that the firm is now resourced to handle the biggest and most complex matters is very satisfying. So we will build on that and continue to look to become better, to bring on good quality human beings, to develop and give opportunity to our staff, with the goal of being collectively proud of what we do,” Kalus says. “We are always reminding ourselves that we are moving forward and that we should be brave.”

KKI is a leading private-client firm representing high-profile Australian and international clients in areas including commercial, property transactions and development, commercial transactions and advisory, and commercial litigation. The firm has also built a strong presence in private client services with expertise in family law, wills and estates, and trusts. 

KKI has been named among this year’s Fast Firms awardees.

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