Allen & Overy Expands in Australia

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Posted on February 10, 2010 at 11:02 AM


Due to Australia’s reputation of producing high quality lawyers, Magic Circle firm, Allen & Overy has chosen to enter the Australian legal market. The firm will have 17 partners in offices that are located in Sydney and Perth. 14 of these were poached from Clayton Utz.

Offices will open on the first of March, just two months after the Norton Rose – Deacon merger, and the rationale appears to be very similar. Don Boyd, chief of Norton Rose’s Australia offices said that a major driver for the merger was the ability to resource Norton Rose’s Asia offices with the high quality, low cost lawyers from Australia.

Allen & Overy’s Asia-Pacific managing partner, Thomas Brown, agreed that the abundance of well-educated lawyers makes the land down under a very attractive market. “This move improves access to the deep poll of high quality lawyers that exist in the Australian legal market, making this the logical next step in out plans to expand our global network,” he said.

In a recent interview, Boyd said that it was unlikely that any of the major UK or US firms would set up shop in Australia without plans to transfer Australian lawyers to Asia. “To just set up in Australia to tap into the Australian market doesn’t really on the face of it make a business case because this is a massively competitive environment,” he said.

A senior partner at Allen & Overy, David Morley, stated: “Our decision to launch in Australia underlines the increasing importance of Australia in the global and Asia-Pacific economies, we see significant opportunities for high end, cross border M&A and finance work in the private and public sectors, particularly in the energy, mining and natural resources sectors.”

After much research on the local legal market, the firm concluded that there was space for a smaller, high-end law firm that is integrated into a broad global network.

There main practice focus will be in energy, mining and natural resources; finance; infrastructure; investment funds; mergers and acquisitions; private equity; tax; and telecoms, media and technology (TMT).

Clayton Utz CEP, David Fagan, has said that the Australian legal market is one of the most competitive in the world and backed his firm’s competitiveness despite the loss of defecting partners. He said that Clayton Utz is in excellent shape and continues to be one of the strongest in the market. The move probably took Fagan by surprise since he had said that the depth of the legal market in Australian would make smaller global firms more interested in domestic markets rather than one of the major ones.


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