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Adelaide firm Thomson Playford is expanding its operation with the launch of two offices along Australia's eastern seaboard
The interstate push will be overseen by Mark Bielecki, who recently resigned as head of PwC Legal's national dispute resolution and litigation business. The firm, which has operated solely out of South Australia since its inception more than 100 years ago, will open in Sydney in April. A Melbourne office will also be launched. Despite the full-service commercial offering of the Adelaide team, which is one of the largest in South Australia, the Sydney office will run a niche practice specialising in tax and insurance law. It is not yet known which practice areas will be handled in Melbourne. Bielecki, a commercial litigator who started at 35-partner Thomson Playford last month, moved to Sydney two years ago from his role as managing partner of rival Adelaide practice Finlaysons. Recruited specifically to head the Sydney office, he will be joined by tax partner Ken Schurgott and former Atanaskovic Hartnell corporate partner Jamie Restas. Insurance partners Kevin Gilchrist, Stephen Connell, Richard Wood and John Homberg will commute between offices. Chief executive Juliet Brown said that the firm's decision to broaden its national coverage came after it conducted a market survey in 2001 which showed that the needs of South Australian clients were becoming increasingly national. Thomson Playford is also hoping to develop its existing portfolio of interstate clients. Brown said: "Mark's across-the-board knowledge of the Sydney legal and business communities, his range of contacts and strong management skills will play a significant part in establishing a presence in Sydney." She said that while the firm would now be positioned to provide on-site advice in the eastern states, it would continue to charge lower rates because much of the work could be carried out by Thomson Playford's Adelaide team.