Skadden pulls out of Australia

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is closing its Sydney office, exiting the Australian market after 29 years.

The firm has confirmed that it is in the process of closing its Sydney office, likely by the middle of the year.

The office currently has two corporate partners and three other lawyers. It is understood that only the firm’s co-head of corporate finance group Adrian Deitz would continue practising at the firm. He will remain resident in Sydney but operate as part of the firm’s Singapore and Hong Kong team to support client matters in Australia.

Skadden’s Sydney office was opened in 1987 and has been primarily focusing on corporate finance, US securities law and M&A transactions.

The closure of the Sydney office is said to have come following a review of the firm’s operations in Asia. Skadden has a one-partner office in Singapore and a bigger team in Hong Kong with 12 partners.

International firms in the legal market have been under intense competition due both to the increasing number of global players and the slowing economy and plummeting Australian dollar exchange rate.

Clifford Chance’s Australian offices have also undergone a major management shake-up recently. The firm’s Sydney managing partner Mark Pistilli is to exit the firm alongside co-founding partner Danny Simmons.

Pistilli and Simmons co-founded Chang Pistilli & Simmons, which was one of two boutique Australian commercial firms to merge with Clifford Chance in 2011.

In 2015, Allen & Overy also saw the departure of Australian senior partner Grant Fuzi, who helped launch the firm’s Sydney and Perth offices in 2010. Fuzi has since left the legal practice and founded impact investment firm Blue River Group.