After a brief hiatus, Perth is ready to resume its role as a national and regional powerhouse – and one of the world’s biggest law firms wants a piece of the action.
Perth’s time has truly arrived. WA lawyers have been saying it for years and now it seems that some of the industry’s global heavyweights are starting to take notice. Allen & Overy’s decision to establish its second Australian office in Western Australia comes as a vindication of the optimism in the Perth legal profession which, in spite of some dubious economic moments in 2009, has never really been absent.
There is however more than one way to interpret the arrival of A&O in Perth. One interpretation is that WA’s resource-fuelled prosperity and proximity to Asia were simply too good an opportunity to miss. The other, less charitable, view is that the magic circle firm needed some urgent respite from the grim state of the UK economy. Either way, local lawyers are feeling energised, rather than threatened, by the esteemed newcomer and some are even predicting that A&O will bring enhanced business opportunity to the market.
“It’s a positive for Perth – a real endorsement that a name like A&O wants to establish itself here,” says Michael Blakiston of Blakiston & Crabb. “Perth has long been a centre of excellence in minerals – we just needed to promote it. This puts Perth and Australia on the map.”
It may seem odd that firms would welcome a competitor, particularly one as well credentialed as A&O, but the theory is that the presence of A&O will encourage national clients to undertake more of their work in Perth, rather than the east coast. “If one company starts using A&O in Perth, the counterparties may also want to consider using a local firm,” explains Blakiston.
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