Deacons and Dunhill tie the knot

Partners at leading Australian firms Deacons and Dunhill Madden Butler have voted in favour of merger.

The two firms have been locked in talks for several months (The Lawyer, 12 June) and the merger, which will create a 140-partner firm, will be effective from 1 August. It will operate under the Deacons name.

Over the past 12 months the firms have been rocked by group departures. Dunhill Madden lost its Sydney operation to Pricewaterhouse- Coopers' legal arm and Deacons lost its Canberra staff to Minter Ellison.

When Deacons ended its 10-year association with US firm Graham & James – understood to be in merger talks with Squire Sanders & Dempsey – speculation was fuelled that the firm was looking for a domestic merger.

It originally entered into talks with Deloitte & Touche, the only big accountant not to have a legal presence in Australia.

But the talks collapsed only weeks before it was revealed the two domestic firms were holding negotiations.

The new firm has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and a presence in Perth. Through Deacons' foreign association it will also have extensive operations throughout Asia.