Andersen Legal poaches three partners in Sydney

Arthur Andersen's Australian law firm Andersen Legal has poached three leading partners from other top firms in Sydney, sparking fears of a major shake-up in Australia's legal market.

Stephen Hibbert joins from Allen Allen & Hemsley, Tony Latimer from Ebsworth & Ebsworth, and Hean-Lay Gan from Freehill Hollingdale & Page.

One source said there were “lots of lawyers in Australia's top 20 firms looking around, particularly at the accountants” because of the access to their international networks.

Andersen Legal, which launched in Australia four years ago by poaching partners from Blake Dawson Waldron, now has 85 lawyers.

Phil Kapp, Andersen Legal's managing partner in Australia, said the firm was looking to expand in four areas – infrastructure, mergers and acquisitions, financial markets and dispute resolution.

Hibbert said Andersen's structure made it possible to tap opportunities in the Asian region in a way that was not possible at Allens.

Andersens has recently added 66-partner Singapore firm Rajah & Tan and 60-lawyer Malaysian firm Zaid Ibrahim to its worldwide legal network.

Hibbert said: “The Andersen Legal approach is to have a much bigger backyard, and have the scope to practise in that area.”

Ebsworths has responded to Latimer's departure by reorganising its corporate and commercial group in Sydney, which will give more emphasis to its banking and finance practice.