Minter Ellison

As the largest Australian firm in terms of lawyers and global offices, Minter Ellison has invested heavily in building itself up into a companion, rather than competitor, to the US and UK practices in Asia and Europe.

Firm name:

Minter Ellison
Turnover: A$410m (£166.08m)
Chief executive: Guy Templeton
Number of lawyers: 987
Number of partners: 261
Profit per equity partner: A$699,000 (£283,000)
Main practice areas: Corporate, project finance, real estate and construction, IP/IT, competition and regulation, insurance, tax
Clients: SingTel Optus, Las Vegas Sands, BHP Billiton, Westpac, AMP, Australia’s federal and state governments
Offices: 14 (plus one association) Locations: Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hong Kong, Jakarta (associated), London, Melbourne, Perth, San Francisco, Shanghai, Sydney, Wellington

As the largest Australian firm in terms of lawyers and global offices, Minter Ellison has invested heavily in building itself up into a companion, rather than competitor, to the US and UK practices in Asia and Europe.

Minters is one of just two Australian firms to keep an office in London and the only one to have a US base, in San Francisco.

The firm has completed its first full financial year under the stewardship of chief executive Guy Templeton, who joined the firm in February 2005. Under his stewardship the revenue may have stayed static, but a drive to target higher-value work has seen profitability rise by 13 per cent.

For the 1 July 2005-30 June 2006 financial year, Minters posted a revenue of A$410m (£166.08m) and a profit per equity partner of A$699,000 (£283,000).

“We’re now being much more selective in the type of work we do, looking to improve our consistency and giving the firm a more performance-based culture,” says Templeton. “We’ve had quite substantial growth from our international offices in the past 12 months, but they still remain a small percentage of our turnover.”

Minters keeps a separate profit pool for its Adelaide, Darwin, Gold Coast, New Zealand and Perth offices, while the core domestic markets of Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the international offices share another.

Hong Kong is Minters’ largest office in the Asian network and it has been bolstered by a series of mega-deals, including advising Las Vegas Sands on its $12bn (£6.36bn) casino project in Macau and German pharmaceutical giant Bayer on its $3bn (£1.59bn) plant in Shanghai.

“For Asia we try to focus on areas where we can be really world class and leverage our strength out of Australia. We don’t want to be competing with the US and magic circle firms in Asia – we’re not going to win large capital-raising mandates for London or New York,” says Templeton. “We’re taking the incremental rather than big bang approach. We have to stick close to our clients and tradeflow, and we have to leverage what we do properly.”

Minters is also looking to spread its employment law offering throughout Asia – a key part of its San Francisco operation. Templeton says keeping San Francisco open “passes the sanity test”, with the firm finding a niche in employment law targeting US companies, primarily Silicon Valley tech companies with Asia-Pacific outlets.

The two-partner London office continues to prove its worth, most recently advising key domestic client Consolidated Press Holdings on a joint venture to operate Europe’s largest integrated hotel, retail and casino complex on the outskirts of Moscow.

“We’ve started to measure our referrals, and referral work received is a disproportionate share. It’s significant amounts and it delivers good profits,” says Templeton.