Brisbane firms agree September merger

Australia's Sydney-based Allen Allen & Hemsley is to swallow up Brisbane firm Feez Ruthning, adding 30 partners to its 60 partners in Sydney and creating a firm with 440 lawyers altogether.

The two firms are part of the Allens Arthur Robinson Group – an association of five Australian law firms which jointly owns several overseas offices, including one in London.

Both practices also share their largest client, Westpac Banking Corporation.

Howard Stack, managing partner at Feez Ruthning, said: “The firms are interacting much more; there are synergies between our firms and we have a similar client base. Westpac has been a common client for the last 150 years.”

The merger will take effect from 1 September.

Greg Hammond, London partner of rival Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, commented: “It is a logical step – they work very closely together.”

Stack and Tim L'Estrange, until recently managing partner of Allen Allen & Hemsley, are close friends.

However, Feez Ruthning would not have dropped its name with its 150-year history in Brisbane lightly.

One source close to the two practices said one or two national companies in Queensland had convinced Feez: “You need to be a national firm to have any quality and to be able to punch your weight. But it's a big step to lose such an institution that is part of the history of Queensland.”

Feez is reportedly having trouble removing its name from the front of its Brisbane offices: it is etched in glass.