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'Differences in direction' blamed after financial integration talks founder; firms set to go head-to-head
The Sydney and Melbourne offices of Middletons Moore & Bevins have dissolved their 10-year relationship. The offices will re-establish themselves as separate entities as of 1 November. The Sydney side of the firm will relaunch itself as Acuiti Legal while the Melbourne arm will be named Middletons. Both firms will open offices in their former ally's home market when the split becomes fully effective next month. Danny Casey, who is to be chief executive of Acuiti, said: "I think we recognised that the two firms are different. They're just pointing in different directions." This immediate competitive strategy contrasts with both firms' emphasis on an amicable split. The "differences in direction" blamed for sullying relations em-erged during discussions about financial integration between the federated partnerships. Middletons' future chief executive John Chisholm argued that in retaining the Middletons name, his firm could capitalise on its associated reputation. He said: "The reputation is very important, not only in Melbourne, but Australia-wide." Casey countered: "The development of a new image for the firm also presented to us the opportunity to move away from the traditional surname of founding partners approach to identifying law firms." He added: "We wanted to send the message to the market that we're a new type of law firm. "We're pretty excited about the future. We aim to build a sustainable future as a middle-sized firm, concentrating on our key areas." These include energy resources, technology, telecoms, hospitality and gaming, property and finance. Both firms are understood to be building a national presence for their different brands. Acuiti is assessing the benefits of opening a Brisbane office, while Middletons has not ruled out the possibility of links with other firms. The firms have stated that neither will suffer financial losses from the division, as they had few common clients.