Expert consultants with unrivalled knowledge of the Australian legal market.

We are a small firm of experienced professional consultants. We know the Australian legal market better than anyone. We are trusted advisers to senior management on their most important projects.

Our clients include the largest International and National law firms in the country as well as mid-tier firms and niche practices. Some are long term players in the market and some are new entrants. The best law firms know that they can never stand still, they are ambitious and are always looking for improvement. We work with senior management at law firms to clarify strategy, improve management and recruit the very best people to enable them to meet their goals.

Scarlis Pringle was founded by Steven Scarlis in 1995 and quickly became the preeminent legal recruitment firm in Australia. In 2018 the firm was renamed and expanded to become SP Search & Consulting.


Steven Scarlis

Steven is Australia’s leading executive search consultant for the legal sector. Steven uses his specialist expertise and unrivalled contacts in the market to assist top-tier firms recruit partners to grow their capabilities.


Steven Scarlis started his career practising law with a leading Australian law firm, before joining an international executive search firm.

In 1995 he founded Scarlis Pringle to focus exclusively on top tier, partner level legal recruitment.

The firm has completed innumerable successful legal search assignments placing partners at nearly every leading firm in the country as well as numerous
General Counsel and senior lawyer placements.

Steven is also known for his strategic consulting work for law firms, assisting in new office openings and reform of partner remuneration systems.


Patrick St John

Patrick has over 30 years experience working with top-tier international law firms. He has developed deep expertise in law firm management and strategic planning. With experience spanning all major issues confronting large law firms, from governance to financial reporting and performance, Patrick is able to assist law firm management achieve change.


Patrick St John started his career as a solicitor in 1988 with leading Australian firm Clayton Utz. He specialised in finance law and his early career included a 12 month secondment to the financial markets group at Macquarie Bank and two years working in the London market with Allen & Overy, Patrick was made partner at Clayton Utz in Sydney in 1996 and quickly built a reputation as one of Australia’s leading finance lawyers with a focus on Project Finance and other forms of large complex financings.

In 2001 Patrick was recruited by Freehills. In 2005 he was appointed to lead the Finance practice group at Freehills which grew under his leadership to be the leading finance team in Australia.


From 2005 to 2018 Patrick was part of the highly successful leadership team at Freehills and then Herbert Smith Freehills. Following the merger of Freehills and Herbert Smith in 2012 he was appointed as the Global Head of Practice for Finance, Real Estate and Projects and was a member of the new Global Executive Committee from its inception. He had management responsibility for approximately 120 partners and 500 lawyers located in 16 offices globally with annual revenues in excess of GBP 200 million.

Patrick also took governance and strategic responsibility for the firm’s Alternative Legal Services business. The “ALT” practice group at HSF is one of the world’s largest internal legal services businesses and provides a global low cost operating model to support work in every practice group and office.

In 2016 Patrick was appointed Managing Partner, Strategic Implementation with responsibility for the firm’s global strategic planning and implementation across all areas of practice and operations. He has reported directly to the firm’s CEO, Mark Rigotti and has led numerous internal change projects for the firm.


Patrick has experience across all of the issues confronting large law firms in particular:

  • Strategy – Deep experience in strategic planning and implementation of strategy in both a domestic and global context
  • Governance and structure – Knowledge of governance and management structures within a law firm. He has lead a number of practice group restructures and understands the challenges involved.
  • Remuneration and Performance -In his time in management Patrick has been involved in a number of reviews of partner remuneration systems. Most recently he led the HSF remuneration review which concluded at the end of 2017 with the successful adoption of a consistent global rem system.
  • Merger Implementation –First hand experience in the challenges and opportunities in merging two large successful law firms
  • Capital Structures – Patrick has a deep understanding of the financing needs and capital structures of law firms. He has been involved in evaluating capital needs and different financing options including a management role in the global refinancing of HSF through a combination of partner capital loans and a large syndicated on-balance-sheet debt facility in 2104.
  • Partner Performance – During his time in law firm management Patrick has been involved in all aspects of evaluating and managing the performance of partners. This has included:
    • Criteria and process for partner promotion and lateral recruitment
    • Implementation of effective performance reviews
    • Developing different methodologies to measure financial and non-financial contributions by partners; and
    • Dealing with underperforming partners.
  • Financial Reporting to Partners – involved in developing partner reports, dashboards and metrics to communicate financial data to partners to assist in practice management including the implementation of matter profitability metrics.
  • Legal Project Management – Patrick has had reporting responsibility for the recruitment and growth of LPM teams
  • Alternative Legal Services – Overseen the growth of the HSF “ALT” business as the chair of the governance committee and the direct report of ALT leadership team.
  • Educator – Patrick has presented to hundreds of new summer clerks, graduates, senior associates and partners on the “business of law”.



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