Global forces driving law firms

Global factors, and not just the attractions of the Australian marketplace, helped drive two big international law firms to establish practices in this country.

Both firms, Hogan Lovells and White & Case, entered the Australian market by recruiting leading partners from Australian firms.

But the business plans of both firms are firmly focused on cross-border work. “I think the key word is ‘cross-border’,” said Tim Lester, the co-managing partner for Australia at Hogan Lovells.

“The underlying rationale for us being here is to chase down, win and support cross-border work coming through to Australia from the network” of Hogan Lovells practices around the world, Mr Lester said.

At White & Case, “it was an Asia-Pacific strategy” as much as a purely Australian play, said John Tivey, the firm’s global head of mining and metals.

Both firms outlined their strategic thinking during a series of roundtable discussion with leading players in the market for legal services. Those discussions were filmed before a live audience at the News Corp Theatre in Sydney as part of The Australian’s Legal Week initiative, which includes the The Australian Legal Review magazine.

The magazine, which was published on Friday and is still available online, features an article by former chief justice Robert French on the challenges confronting the legal sector.

An extended video of the first roundtable discussion is available on The Australian’s website and two more will be published online in coming weeks.

In an extract that appears online today, Mr Tivey says White & Case was interested in growing its Asia-Pacific projects practice but only opened for business in this country after identifying “a quality team” that could be recruited. “We saw a great opportunity with the team that we recruited — in the sense that they were the leading team in the market,” Mr Tivey said.

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