Sydney firm Minter Ellison is taking over Western Australia practice Edwards Thompson.
Minters has had a two-year strategic alliance with the Perth practice, but the two firms have decided to take their relationship further. London partner Robert Hanley views it as "the logical next step".
Edwards Thompson specialises in resources, mining, energy and property. Minter's chief executive Sean Larkan says: "This represents a significant thrust into the resources and mining markets. It provides us with very strong credentials in that area."
It is understood that Edwards Thompson's 15 lawyers will all stay with the merged firm and will be based in Minter's Perth offices.
Andrew Thompson and Kevin Edwards, both name partners, have already been told they will be given senior partner positions within the firm. Thompson will also take a role in the national group.
The merger follows a spate of significant lateral hires by Minters. In the past 12 months, it has recruited more than 30 partners from other firms, including most of Deacons' Canberra office, which is also a top 10 practice.
One of its high-profile recruits last year was Phil Kapp, founder and managing partner of Arthur Andersen's affiliated law firm Andersen Legal (The Lawyer, 18 October 1999).
Larkan says: "We have been through tremendous growth recently. Full integration will consolidate the strengths of the two firms to provide clients with a broad range of specialist legal services."
The Edwards Thompson merger is scheduled for completion on 1 January 2001.