Australian firm HWL Ebsworth expands national network with Adelaide acquisition

Australian firm HWL Ebsworth continues its growth spree with the acquisition of South Australian firm Kelly & Co.

The combination between HWL Ebsworth and Adelaide-based Kelly & Co is set to complete on 1 July 2014. Kelly & Co’s 14 partners along with their legal and support teams will join national firm HWL Ebsworth to form the base of the larger firm’s new Adelaide office.

HWL Ebsworth’s new Adelaide office will focus on banking and finance, commercial and M&A, energy and natural resources, infrastructure, construction and insolvency.

“A physical presence in South Australia has become increasingly important for HWL Ebsworth,” said Juan Martinez, HWL Ebsworth managing partner. “A significant number of our clients have an interest or presence in South Australia and this office launch is consistent with our strategy of partnering with our clients in all legal areas of importance to them in all regions of Australia.”

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, will make HWL Ebsworth a national firm of 905 staff including 187 partners, 425 other legal staff and 293 support staff across seven locations – Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, North West Sydney, Perth and Sydney.

Prior to the Adelaide expansion, HWL Ebsworth acquired a 23-lawyer insurance team in Sydney from DLA Piper (6 November 2013) and in June 2013 it opened its Perth office by taking over general corporate boutique Downings Legal (21 June 2013).

It is the latest example of the continued consolidation among Australia’s mid-tier firms, following a wave of mergers between top-tier national players and global firms in recent years.

Last month, Thomsons Lawyers and Herbert Geer merged to form Thomson Geer, which has 80 partners and more than 230 lawyers across four offices in Australia (13 February 2014).