Jones Day targets Australia with Perth office

Jones Day has hired Allens construction partner Stephen McComish to launch its second Australia base in Perth.

The opening, set for April, will build on the US firm’s 13-partner Sydney office, which opened in 1998. Perth-born McComish has been a partner at Allens, which entered into an exclusive alliance with Linklaters in April 2012 (23 April 2012), for nearly a decade.

Sydney managing partner Chris Ahern said: “Opening in Perth allows us to better serve clients in the new phase of development of the state’s resources industry, and Stephen’s vast experience with a range of both local and international clients gives us added depth in litigation and contractual matters related to these complex projects.”

A number of US firms have moved into the Australian markets in recent years. In October Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan set out plans to more than double the size of its presence there (8 October 2013) while K&L Gates added four partners to its Melbourne, Perth and Sydney bases (11 October 2013).

However a survey by National Australia Bank published back in July showed that business conditions had slumped to a four-year low. The country’s law firms felt the pinch, as many struggled to achieve revenue growth. Ashurst Australia, Clayton Utz and King & Wood Mallesons, for example, saw turnover fall by 2.4 per cent, 4.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively in 2012/13.

Due to the tough market conditions and the integration process in merged firms there is also a perception that the big players in Australia are getting leaner. DLA Piper’s Australian offices, for example, had 107 partners at the end of July, down 6 per cent from 114 partners a year ago. 

Jones Day’s estimated global litigation and arbitration revenue of $900m secured it fourth place in this year’s Global Litigation Top 50.