While newly arrived international law firms are touting the opportunities globalisation can bring, some of their partners are finding that their skills and clients are no longer wanted.
Partners in the construction and retail leasing, for example, have been quick to leave the newly global firms following the mergers. But as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, according to firms active in those practices. “What we are seeing is a number of partners and practice groups dropping out of the firms that are becoming international, so there are opportunities for us to pick up practice groups or groups of partners in areas that the international firms don’t bother with,” said Piper Alderman managing partner, Tony Phelps.
Maddocks, HWL Ebsworth and Gadens Lawyers have been quick to pounce on partners and clients no longer a priority in the global firm structure. Gadens Brisbane recruited former Norton Rose partner Cameron Cooling and his 12 strong retail leasing team late last year, while Maddocks has recently recruited former Blake Dawson (now Ashurst Australia) partner Simonetta Astolfi to head its new Canberra office, which focuses on advising Commonwealth Government clients on regulatory issues, commercial matters and dispute resolution. “We’ve been the recipient of clients that have come to us as a result of changes in the industry and also we’ve been able to recruit a number of people at all levels as a result of the change in the legal landscape,” said Maddocks partner David Rennick.
Gadens partner Doron Rivlin says he has seen this trend emerging in recent years with the arrival of international law firms particularly in the construction space. “I think the global mergers are affecting immediately the construction industry,” said Rivlin. “The top six are not as focused on the construction industry in the same way they were five years ago.”
As top tier firms merge with global brands, the emphasis in the construction area has shifted to mining related infrastructure according to Rivlin, who has witnessed many of the firms rebadge their practices as infrastructure, not construction. “There is no doubt that their focus is going to be in the big infrastructure transactions, which is why the global players are interested in the Australian market,” he said. “This is going to put pressure on partners in the construction space, because they may not get the support in the short or long term that they require to sustain their client base.”
Maddocks moves in on Canberra 27 February 2012
Gadens builds on with new property partner 23 November 2011