Leading Australian law firm Freehill Hollingdale & Page has announced a merger between its Perth office and Perth practice Parker & Parker, to make Freehills Australia's largest firm, with 180 partners.

The move has prompted Parkers, a 27-partner firm, to leave the Allens Arthur Robinson Group, the alliance of Australian law firms which has a string of joint overseas offices.

And although the move is described by both sides as a merger, the office will continue to be known as Freehill Hollingdale & Page.

Freehills' current managing partner in Perth, Peter Mansell, will retain his position in the merged office, whose chairman will be Dudley Stow, the current chair of Parkers.

The new office will be based at Parkers' present home.

Mansell said: “The enhanced legal services, together with efficiencies gained on the administrative side, will directly benefit our clients.”

John Atkins, Parkers managing partner, added: “Our goal is to be the first choice to all companies doing business in Western Australia.”

The departure of Parkers reduces the Allens Arthur Robinson Group to three firms. Stephen Walker, managing partner of Allen Allen & Hemsley, the largest practice in the group, said the move did not surprise him because one of the other firms in the group, Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks, had recently opened in Perth.

He added: “We're not too worried about the move as it is a Perth-based merger. The two firms are roughly the same size in Perth and the new firm will have only have 52 partners in the city.”