Australian national firms join in the merger mania

The Australian legal market has faced some tough times in recent years, with pay freezes, staff cuts and partner exits affecting a raft of firms operating in the country.

It’s no wonder, then, that many have sought refuge in international mergers. Starting back in 2009, when Deacons combined with Norton Rose , the number of Aussie independents has steadily reduced, with Mallesons Stephen Jaques , Blake Dawson and Freehills all now part of larger global concerns.   

This strategy isn’t for all though, as HWL Ebsworth proved last week with the announcement of two domestic mergers. First the firm unveiled plans to expand into Northern Territory cities Darwin and Alice Springs via the take-over of local firm Cridlands MB , before confirming it would also bulk up in Adelaide with the acquisition of local litigation firm Lawson Smith Lawyers .

Sealing local mergers in Australian cities has become HWL Ebsworth’s modus operandi over the past year and a half, with the firm acquiring six-partner corporate boutique Downings Legal in Perth last June and Adelaide outfit Kelly & Co this April.

Merger is clearly still a watchword in the Australian legal market, but not necessarily of the international variety.

Also on TheLawyer.com:

  • Nabarro scopes out Singapore alliance , with disputes head Jonathan Warne and construction partner James Snape leading the charge
  • Strong growth in FDI from the ASEAN region helps buoy Taylor Wessing’s half-year financials
  • And, want to know what’s driving the growth of regulatory investigations in the litigation hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong? Check out our Global Litigation Top 50, which includes analysis of these and other key disputes jurisdictions, here
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