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US FIRM Chadbourne & Parke has established a base in Australia by building an association with the niche natural resources practice Chambers & Co.
Both sides describe the association as close and likely to get closer although it is not exclusive.
Under the arrangement, Chadbourne & Parke has sent project finance counsel Lynne Gedanken from its Washington office to the Melbourne-based four-partner firm.
The Melbourne firm will regularly second staff to Chadbourne & Parke's Hong Kong office and has agreed to recruit more lawyers locally to enable it to service the US clients' needs in Australia.
Rigdon Boykin, the head of Chadbourne & Parke's Hong Kong practice, who forged the link, described it as an alternative to opening an office in Australia, which he said was a source of an increasing amount of work.
Kathryn Nolan, a partner at Chambers & Co, which specialises in natural resources work in the Far East, said: 'We're able to offer them our mining and natural resources expertise and we're able to provide them with a base here to service their clients, a number of whom are looking to invest in Australia.'
'I think this is a relationship which can grow and grow, although none of us are egotistical enough to think that clients cannot choose other legal service providers.'
Currently only a handful of international firms have offices in Australia notably Baker & McKenzie and Coudert Brothers. Historically, Australian firms have been reluctant to forge associations with international practices for fear of losing work. But one observer said a close association could make more sense for a niche firms like Chambers & Co.