Australian firm signs A&O's Walls

AUSTRALIAN practice Allens Arthur Robinson has appointed Allen & Overy lawyer Duncan Walls to head its London office.

He will replace the current managing partner Jim Dunstan, who has run the London office for the past three years.

Dunstan is returning to Sydney in March to run the banking department of Allen Allen & Hemsley, one of the member firms of the Allens Arthur Robinson group. He will also head the Asian Infrastructure group at the firm.

Walls, an Australian, worked in Allen & Overy's banking department. Prior to that, he was General Counsel with the Australian Industry Development Corporation and was an assistant director of Hambros Bank in London and Australia.

“I currently work as an English lawyer and this opportunity to go back to Australian law presented itself at an extraordinarily suitable time,” said Walls. “It is particularly interesting because it is a unique chance to take the three firms firmly into the UK market.”

Dunstan said he had been reviewing how the London office was run.

He said because partners were only based in London for two to three years, the firm was “destroying a web of contacts because contacts were broken when the partner returned home”.

The choice of a London-based partner would give the office the ability to have “long-term stability and quiet growth,” he said, adding that the volume of business in the London office was “not overwhelming” and depended on looking after its contacts. The job had a “heavy representation” side and Walls had lots of contacts.

Dunstan is also returning to work on a major light railway privatisation in Indonesia, following his earlier involvement in the Quala Lumpa light railway project.

Walls will become a partner in the Allens Arthur Robinson group which has set up a new offshore entity to administer offshore partners.