Australia. Beloved at this time of year by the British backpacker for its blue skies, its barbies and Bondi Beach.
But the managing partners of the UK’s legal sector have fought shy of launching there, citing lower levels of profitability.
However, as we report today, Allen & Overy has broken the mould by swooping on Clayton Utz to establish an Aussie presence (see story).
Fourteen partners from the Australian firm’s Sydney and Perth offices will run a focused M&A and finance practice, with a particular focus on energy, mining and natural resources - plus a handful more.
A&O senior partner David Morley says that the firm did its didgeri-due diligence (sorry) and found that there was room for a smaller, high-end firm in the Australian market. The last time a magic circle firm contemplated launching down under was back in 2008 when The Lawyer revealed that Clifford Chance was in merger talks with Mallesons Stephen Jaques (see story).
But in the end the little matter of a global recession meant CC had its mind on other issues - such as the fact its global PEP was about to be slashed in half. As a result it retreated back to Canary Wharf like a dingo with its tail between its legs.
A&O managed to prevent its own profitability taking the same nosedive, despite a far-reaching global restructuring that saw 450 lawyers leave globally.
But with the Australian and UK arms of the business set to operate a single profit pool UK partners will want to ensure that the sunshine and the tinnies haven’t gone to David Morley’s head.
Meanwhile, the latest on the transatlantic merger front: Hogan & Hartson and Lovells have announced the make-up of the new Hogan Lovells international management committee - and it’s very, very revealing. To see who’s on it and why, click here. And in The Lawyer today: Yet more on Hogan and Lovells: will it choose Murdoch or ITV? (Or do we know the answer already?)