Manches boosts media dept with Australian star

City firm Manches is boosting its media practice by recruiting a former head of business affairs at EMI in Australia.

Randall Harper is joining the firm next month as a senior lawyer. He is one of the leading entertainment lawyers in Australia.

He is currently in the process of requalifying in English law, after which it is hoped he will become a partner.

Harper worked for EMI for 13 years before joining medium-size Australian law firm Tress Crocks and Maddox in 1989. He then set up his own specialist law firm, Harper Watson, in 1994.

He has acted for music multinationals such as EMI and Polygram, and has been involved in some of Australia's most successful films – including The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom.

He was also appointed by the New South Wales government as principal external legal counsel to the state's film and television office.

Manches hopes that the appointment will attract some of Harper's bigger clients to the firm.

“That is certainly the plan,” says head of media at Manches Paul Woolf. “I hope his extensive experience in Australia is going to bring to bear on my practice over here.

“The entertainment business is very global so I do a lot of work in London out of Canada and Randall obviously brings in the whole Australian work.”

The appointment is part of a move to develop the newly created department at Manches.

Woolf currently works with one other lawyer, drawing on support from the rest of the firm on issues such as litigation and tax – but he hopes Harper will ultimately boost the practice to two partners.

“All things being equal, once he's qualified here the plan is he becomes a partner. His place in the international business means he's at partner status – people know him as a senior player.”

Woolf is currently acting on an animation project where the two financiers are Children's ITV and Disney, and has done a lot of work for the ITV networks.