Minter Ellison relaunches in Perth after Squire Sanders raid

Thirty lawyers from Minter Ellison’s legacy Perth office are to financially integrate with the Australian firm on 1 October, the same day that the office’s other 80 lawyers will launch Squire Sanders’ Australian arm.

In August Squire Sanders partners voted in favor of the plan to merge with the majority of Minter Ellison’s affiliated Perth office (18 August 2011). It is the US firm’s second major expansion in a year following its combination with UK firm Hammonds on 1 January 2011.

In total 80 lawyers, including 14 partners, from Minter Ellison’s Perth office decided to join Squire Sanders after 14 months of talks with the Australian firm regarding financial integration. Until now the Perth office has operated on a franchise basis. 

Minter Ellison Perth managing partner John Poulsen has been appointed the managing partner of the new Squire Sanders Australia office and will sit on the firm’s global board.

Poulsen told The Lawyer in August that while four Perth partners had opted to remain with Minter Ellison in a new financially integrated Perth base, the vast majority had voted for a Squire Sanders combination because of the US firm’s larger global network.

Squire Sanders’ Perth combination, effective from 1 October, follows a Swiss Verein structure, similar to the Hammonds combination.

With the new Perth addition, Squire Sanders’ total global headcount will reach 1,300 lawyers in 36 offices and 17 countries, while its global revenue is anticipated to to $725m.

As a result of the departures Minter Ellison is relaunching in Perth. The new branch will be a fully integrated operation of the firm with 30 lawyers, including four partners, from the previous Perth affiliation. Commercial property partner John Prevost will head the office.

“Our integrated presence in Perth recognises the fundamental importance of the Western Australian marketplace as having both local and international significance,” said Minter Ellison acting chief executive partner Andrew Cunningham in a statement.

Minter Ellison Perth’s 30-lawyer office will focus on the key industries of energy

and resources, property, projects and infrastructure, financial services, and government.

The firm plans to grow quickly in the short term. “We expect to extend our Perth team to 50-plus lawyers in the near future,” said Cunningham.

Australia has been a hot destination for global firms, with Perth in particular proving a key location. International firms with a Perth office now include Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Holman Fenwick Willan, Norton Rose and Squire Sanders. Ashurst will also acquire a Perth capability upon the completion of its merger with Blake Dawson (26 September 2011).