Interview with Laurent Corgnet, Managing Partner at Albatross Lawyers
How would you describe the core activity of Albatross Lawyers?
Albatross Lawyers is a boutique law firm based on the Gold Coast specialising in franchising, commercial and immigration laws. Our main target audiences are either migrants who want to create or purchase businesses or existing local business owners (usually SMEs) who seek assistance to better restructure their business for the next stage of their development which can take several forms (e.g. sale of business, franchising, merger) or to respond to their general commercial legal needs.
My expertise in franchising concretely consists in helping existing businesses become franchisors, or advising individuals to become potential franchisees of concepts, while my commercial expertise includes structure creation, shareholders’ agreements, contracts of various kinds, intellectual property registration, leasing and business purchases/sales. As a Migration Agent, I offer assistance to both individuals or companies applying for sponsored visas (e.g. 457, 186), Skilled migration or partner visas, etc. Our team can provide counsel in French, Spanish, Chinese as well as Japanese. As far as other legal fields are concerned (e.g. family law, property, labor/work, litigation, etc), Albatross Lawyers has setup strategic alliances with specialist law firms.
In parallel and complement of my activities within Albatross Lawyers, I manage Albatross Development, a consulting company specialising in business development and franchising. For example, this allows me and my team to make business assessment of an existing business to determine whether or not their systems and performance could allow them to grow and expand via franchising. If franchising is a potential growth avenue, Albatross Development also allows me to advise business owners how to become a franchisor and to assist them setup all the tools (such as Procedures, Operations, Finance and Accounting, Marketing manuals). Due to my personal experience in the Food & Beverage industry, we are especially qualified to formalise specialist manuals related to Food and Beverages recipes. Lastly, this entity is also used to assist Australian businesses for international expansion in some markets.
Can you describe your personal background and the history of Albatross Lawyers?
I grew up in Paris and Aix-en-Provence in a very entrepreneurial family involved in the legal & accounting industries. I first came to Australia as an exchange student during high school and then came back as a student to attend Bond University where I graduated with two bachelor degrees in Law and Commerce with majors in International Business and Management. After obtaining a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from QUT, I was admitted as a solicitor by the Supreme Court of Queensland. Originally on a student visa, I quickly shifted to a business visa thanks to my family who created a cafés-food retail business that eventually became a franchisor in Australia and overseas. For several years I juggled studies and part-time work for the family business, learning my trade while assisting the company’s in-house lawyer. I became a permanent resident and an Australian citizen several years later.
As a migrant I went through the whole process (migration, company/business creation, leasing, etc) with very limited support. I faced again those challenges when we expanded and restructured our family group into an international franchisor in the Middle-East (I lived there nearly a year) and when I moved to the USA to launch the US branch of our group there (I lived in various States for 4+ years). These combined experiences and my legal background prompted me to create an Australian law firm which could provide these types of services to fellow migrants and help them avoid major pitfalls. Migrants offer a very good platform for my services since migrants are “green” in the country and require a range of assistance. Therefore working with migrants is like taking care of a seed which may bloom into a tree down the line. It is a very rewarding experience, from a personal and business point of view, to accompany them through this process and is a reflection of my own journey.
Due to my own legal expertise and collaboration with many international lawyers, my “hands on” personal ongoing experience as a CEO & director of an international franchisor of food retail concepts and my past roles in commercial real estate & business broking (both as a fully licensed real estate consultant and an investor) over the past 10+ years, I understand what it means to be a small business owner and the challenges these entrepreneurs face every day. This prompted me to develop a personalised client approach based on a "trusted advisor basis & full picture understanding" and with a fee structure which privileges fixed fee as much as possible allowing transparency and better budgeting for the clients.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can the French-Australian Chamber help you achieve your objectives?
There are only a handful of Australian lawyers who are fluent in French in Queensland and this puts me in a rare position to cater for the French community. At this stage, a third of my client base is French and the trend is likely to increase with the growing flow of French nationals settling to Australia. The French-Australian Chamber of Commerce is the ideal platform to promote my services since it is the first point of contact for many professionals and companies settling to Australia. I have been a Small Business member of the Chamber since I set up Albatross Lawyers, and the investment has certainly been worth it. As part of the Chamber’s Members to Members Benefits Programme, we have set up a special 10% discount off proposed legal engagement fee for all FACCI Members and have been counselling many of them. I look forward to attending this year Small Business Showcase coming up on the 5th of November as well as sponsoring events in 2016. This of course will be an opportunity to increase Albatross Lawyers’ visibility in the community but also a way to give back to the community.
For more information, please consult Albatross Lawyers’ website: www.albatrosslawyers.com.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré on 23 September 2015.
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