Law firms reap fruits of merger

Legal Week: Global law firms

International mergers by three big Australian law firms have transformed their businesses, giving their lawyers access to more lucrative work and their clients access to business opportunities offshore.

The three firms — Ashurst, Dentons and Squire Patton Boggs — have outlined the impact of their mergers in the latest edition of The Australian Legal Review magazine, which is free with Friday’s newspaper.

Georgia Quick from Ashurst Australia. Photo: Chris Pavlich
Georgia Quick from Ashurst Australia. Photo: Chris Pavlich

The magazine, which also features a major article by former Chief Justice Robert French, is part of The Australian’s Legal Week initiative, which includes a series of videos on the future of legal services. These extended roundtable discussions were filmed before a live audience at the News Corp Theatre in Sydney and will be uploaded to The Australian’s website every Friday for the next three weeks.

In an extract that appears online today, John Poulson of Squire Patton Boggs says how the Australian practice has changed since its merger. “Our work is entirely different and I can measure that by the average real rates, which have jumped from about $240 an hour to around $400,” says Mr Poulson, managing partner for Australia.

Georgia Quick, Ashurst’s Sydney disputes and staff partner, says her firm’s merger has increased the amount of cross-border legal work. Before the merger, the Australian practice known as Blake Dawson was already doing complex work. But the merger has given Australian lawyers more opportunity to work offshore on complex matters for multinational clients.

At Dentons, the full impact of December’s merger is still unfolding, but the region’s chief executive Steve Healy says the practice is now able to provide clients with business opportunities previously unavailable.

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