International Law

Major London-Based Law Firms Look to Australia for New Global Base

As the world’s BigLaw firms look to maintain their preeminence, Australia is becoming the new frontier for those wishing to take over top deals from local legal partnerships.

Allen & Overy which established offices in Perth and Sydney earlier this year, has reported banner profits from its global operations. And although “magic circle” rival Clifford Chance has also done very nicely, it is only a matter of time before the megafirm will plant its flag on the continent, too, predicts the Australian.

Clifford Chance didn’t weigh in with its opinion on the issue. But Partner Michael Lishman of Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe suggests his country’s top tier is going to have to merge with big international law firms or lose the nation’s top transactional business.

“The very, very top deals are going to go to global brands,” he predicts.

And large international firms should have little difficulty finding Australian merger partners or teams of individual lawyers willing to sign onto their rosters, he says, since “their partner returns are pretty impressive and there is a clear process of globalizing legal services that is happening now.”

Related coverage: “Allen & Overy Plants Office in Australia, Snags 14 Partners From Local Firm” “Clifford Chance Edges Out Linklaters as UK’s Top-Paid Firm, Earning $1.8B in FY 2009”

Australian: “Seismic change to shift legal scene forever”

Legal Week: “2009-10’s standout firms: Allen & Overy”

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