Competition in the Australian legal market is set to intensify with the announcement that UK’s largest firm Clifford Chance is moving in.
After months of speculation Clifford Chance has announced it will merge with two boutique law firms, Chang, Pistilli & Simmons (CP&S) in Sydney and Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe (CLCL) in Perth.
The mergers are among the first steps in the delivery of an ambitious growth strategy for Asia, with plans to double regional revenues for the firm in four years. The new Australian operation will be known as Clifford Chance, and CP&S and CLCL's partners and lawyers will be fully integrated within the international firm, creating an immediate 14 partner capacity for Clifford Chance in Australia.
The mergers, which have been approved by the Clifford Chance partnership, will take effect from 1 May 2011. “The importance of Asia to the global economy and to our major clients has already resulted in substantial growth for our market-leading Asia operations," said Peter Charlton, Clifford Chance's head of Asia. "Any credible growth strategy for the Asian legal market can no longer ignore the importance of the Australian market to the region, both as a destination for, and a source of, investment. I'm pleased that in CP&S and CLCL we have found such a good solution for our clients, and I'm looking forward to welcoming the partners and staff of both firms to Clifford Chance."
Mark Pistilli, managing partner of CP&S said: “This merger will create a seamless, quality service for Clifford Chance's global clients with interests in Australia…We have known the CLCL partners in Perth for many years and have the highest regard for them. We look forward to working together to support our clients' requirements on the ground both in Sydney and in Perth.”
Ian Cochrane, CLCL senior partner added: "Western Australia is of interest to any professional services provider, given its strong business growth, especially in energy and resources. By bringing together our firms' established reputations in that sector, we can provide a truly global service to Australian inbound and outbound investors in energy and resources."
Allen & Overy also chose Sydney and Perth when it established itself in the Australian market almost a year ago. Unlike Norton Rose and now Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy created a new entity under the guidance of former Clayton Utz partner Grant Fuzi; who was joined by 14 fellow Clayton Utz partners. Norton Rose merged with Australian firm Deacons; while DLA Piper announced full integration with DLA Phillips Fox last month after years of being a group firm. The integration will be made official the same day as Clifford Chance, 1 May.
David Childs, Clifford Chance's managing partner, said that as globalisation enters a new phase, the balance of economic power, and clients' attention, is shifting to Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. “In many of these markets, Clifford Chance is already known and widely respected. However, we need to continue to evolve our business to reflect these bigger changes, as witnessed by this important move in Australia,” he said.