Law firms HopgoodGanim Lawyers and Hunt & Humphry will amalgamate from July 1, with the deal designed to boost the combined firm’s capabilities to take advantage of increasing activity in the resources sector.
The merged firm, which will be under the HopgoodGanim brand, will have nine partners in its Perth office, with operations in Western Australia and Brisbane.
Led by industry veteran Michael Hunt, Hunt & Humphry has been one of the leading law players in the resources space, providing advice on a full range of transactions and project development issues, including land use and access, resource and infrastructure tenures, native title and state agreements, among other services.
“We wanted to get together with HopgoodGanim because they’ve got a similar philosophy to us,” he said.
“It won’t surprise you to know that over the years we’ve been approached by a lot of big Sydney and Melbourne law firms to join up, but there was no synergy there.”
HopgoodGanim partner Robyn Ferguson said the firm had long been admirers of Hunt & Humphry’s presence in the resources sector in WA, and had decided to move on the amalgamation plan in response to improving industry conditions.
“It has been a bit of a hiatus in resources, we’re starting to see some increased activity and some green shoots in the resources space, and it’s now which is the time in our view, to look around and bring that specialty into HopgoodGanim,” Ms Ferguson told Business News.
“It’s a little bit countercyclical, the environment still is a bit tough in WA, but we do see that those green shoots are there and we really want to bring that expertise together.
“When we see increased activity we want to respond, that’s why we wanted to combine the firm and just make sure that that specialty resources expertise is under the combined roof.
“It’s an opportunity that we think is the right time, and we see good value from our clients on a combined basis.”
Hunt & Humphry principal Paul Harley also reported increasing inquiry for the firm’s services from resources players.
“We are seeing it kicking off this year,” Mr Harley said.
“I know we’ve been saying that every year in the resources game for the past several years, but we really think we’ve got some traction this year in the space.
“Our clients are starting to move, we’re seeing projects come online and strategic acquisitions happening in the space.
“What (the merger) does is bring a premium resources practice into a house that gives us that extra oomph.”
Mr Harley said a long-running working and referrals relationship between the two law firms had uncovered various synergies, which would be built on through the amalgamation.
Hunt & Humphry senior associate James Hunt and principal Josh Hunt will join the combined firm, while principal Conrad Marais will depart to the UK.
Mr Harley said James Hunt would be promoted to partner in the new firm, bringing a strong Warden’s Court practice to the combined entity.