…as it raids rivals for Australian offices

BAKER & McKenzie has poached four partners from rival firms in an attempt to bolster its Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Leading construction partner Robert Leacock is joining with his team from US firm Coudert Brothers' Sydney office.

Baker & McKenzie has also poached litigation partner Andrew Christopher and an associate from Australian top-10 practice Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

The practice's Melbourne office, its second-largest in Australia after Sydney, has also been party to the latest round of hires.

Ann Moon joins the office's commercial real estate group from local firm Deacons Graham & James.

David Carter and an associate also joins the office as a partner from Madgwicks.

He specialises in major projects, including utilities, infrastructure and privatisation work.

The recruitment drive comes only weeks after Baker & McKenzie announced an end to its search for a national managing partner.

Dunhill Madden Butler's managing partner of the last six years David Nathan will join the firm in January.

Nathan is the latest Dunhills departure, following the mass exit of more than 150 lawyers, including 27 partners, to PricewaterhouseCoopers' legal arm in September.

Corporate partner Trevor Lloyd will succeed Nathan as Dunhills' managing partner.

The firm has 62 partners in Australia spread in its Melbourne and Sydney offices.

One rival senior Australian lawyer says that the recruitment makes sense. He says: “In Australia [Baker & McKenzie] has not enjoyed the top banking and corporate work.

“If I was them I would be trying to build up the Australian domestic practice rather than relying on good referral work from the US.”