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Law Practice Management

IPO Funds ‘Eye-Popping Expansion’ of Australian Plaintiffs Firm

Posted Feb 19, 2008 12:41 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Still several months short of the one-year anniversary of its IPO, what has been billed as the world's first publicly owned law firm, Australia's Slater & Gordon, has been growing by leaps and bounds.

A primary purpose of selling shares in the law firm, one-third of which is now externally owned, was to fund an aggressive growth strategy. That plan has apparently succeeded: "Since July 2005 Slater & Gordon has acquired 11 other legal firms, including five since the public listing of May last year," reports the Lawyer, in an article written by Mike Feehan, the law firm's chief operating officer. "Over the same period, the firm has opened several new offices, extending its national network to 24 locations."

Although additional transparency and reporting requirements are implicated by being a company whose shares are publicly traded, these have not been difficult for the Melbourne-based plaintiff firm to comply with, says Feehan.

Clearly, the $28 million or so raised by the firm's initial public offering in May 2007 was a key factor in funding the "eye-popping expansion" evidenced by acquiring five law firms in nine months. So other legal partnerships are now enviously observing Slater & Gordon's success, writes the Lawyer in an introduction to Feehan's article.

Although such public ownership of law firms is legal in Australia and is expected to be allowed in the United Kingdom by 2011, it isn't yet on the front burner as a possible option in the United States.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "It's Official: U.K. Law Firms Soon for Sale"

ABAJournal.com: "For Sale? Group Prices BigLaw Brand Names"

ABAJournal.com: "How Public Law Firms Would Benefit GCs"

ABAJournal.com: "Egads! Will US Law Firms Go Public?"

ABA Journal: "Selling Law on an Open Market"


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