23/04/2008 - 22:00

Client mix helps Clayton Utz lift its market rating

23/04/2008 - 22:00

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Five years of solid growth has enabled Clayton Utz to become the second largest law firm in Perth, behind only long-time market leader Freehills.

Five years of solid growth has enabled Clayton Utz to become the second largest law firm in Perth, behind only long-time market leader Freehills.

Data compiled for WA Business News’ Book of Lists shows that Freehills remains the largest firm in Perth by a wide margin, with 34 partners and 186 legal professionals.

Clayton Utz is second with 22 partners and 129 legal professionals, after adding 13 lawyers to its staff in the past year.

Clayton Utz has expanded every year for the past five years, evidently helped by its strategy of focusing on local clients as well as national clients.

“A sweet spot for us is the growing, publicly-listed mining or oil and gas companies,” managing partner Geoff Simpson told WA Business News.

“That’s off a view that, while we are a fully-integrated national firm, we need to be embedded in the Perth business community.”

Mr Simpson names companies likes Equinox Minerals, Anvil Mining, Aquarius Platinum, Nexus, Gindalbie Metals, Grange Resources and Midwest Corporation as some of the firm’s clients.

“With a lot of those companies our competition is the West Perth firms.We do want to grow in that area. Ten years ago they may have been juniors, now they are mid caps and in some cases quite substantial companies,” he said.

“I think that has given us an uplift that perhaps the other (national) firms haven’t had.”

Apart from Clayton Utz, other firms to have achieved strong growth over the past five years include Allens Arthur Robinson (87 legal staff) and Deacons (67 legal staff) and independent Perth firm Jackson McDonald (118 legal staff).

Allens focuses primarily on servicing big national and international clients, led by the likes of Rio Tinto.

It has built its Perth office virtually from scratch over the past decade and is starting to approach a size in WA that reflects its national profile as one of the major corporate laws firms.

The list of Perth’s top 20 law firms includes two that have grown beyond the ‘boutique’ moniker normally attached to them – Blakiston & Crabb and Steinepreis Paganin.

Blakiston & Crabb, with 28 legal staff, is the archetypal West Perth law firm, focusing primarily on servicing mining companies, including many that have expanding operations in Africa.

Managing partner Michael Blakiston was named last month as one of the top 20 mining lawyers worldwide, in a survey by London-based publisher Who’s Who Legal.

The firm is currently expanding its Hay Street premises to accommodate further growth.

CBD-based Steinepreis Paganin, which has 24 legal staff, has established a strong niche servicing stock market floats.

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