Australia is rich in many things: soap operas, natural resources and creatures that want you dead, to name but a few. It’s not shy of a good law firm or two, either.
So it’s just a wonder that Herbert Smith has taken so long to start sniffing around the Antipodes (see story). It’s only natural that one of the UK’s biggest firms would look at a jurisdiction where it’s competitors have been making big plays and ask what they are missing.
Meanwhile, down under, lawyers are reporting a big increase in the number of visitors from UK, US and Canadian firms, with talks taking on a heightened intensity over the past six months.
Not that the Aussies seem to mind. Just like when the First Fleet introduced rabbits into the country in the late 1700s, the entrance of A&O, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose etc, has wreaked havoc with the legal market’s delicate ecology, with partners are uneasy about whether they can maintain an edge over the competition without some sort of tie-up.
So far, so defensive. But some of the names that Herbert Smith has been linked with – including Blake Dawson and Freehills – would, undeniably, create a force to be reckoned with. And what other options are open to the Aussies? Myxomatosis aint going to stem this invasion.