13/05/2003 - 22:00

Jackson McDonald five head for pastures new

13/05/2003 - 22:00

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LAW firm Jackson McDonald is facing a mini partner exodus, with one partner having left recently and four more about to depart.

LAW firm Jackson McDonald is facing a mini partner exodus, with one partner having left recently and four more about to depart.

Staff have been told that four insurance partners – Rani Aria-Retnam, Piet Jarman, David McKenna and Chris Rimmer – will be leaving the firm at the end of June. It is understood they plan to establish a firm specialising in insurance law.

They follow industrial relations partner Greg Smith, who has already left Jackson McDonald and will shortly be starting with national law firm Sparke Helmore.

Mr Smith will be the third partner in Sparke Helmore’s Perth office, which opened last July. The Newcastle-based firm has nearly 600 staff in eight Australian offices.

The loss of five partners puts a significant dent in Jackson McDonald’s business. Nine of its 27 partners specialised in insurance, so the firm is losing nearly half of the partners in its chosen specialty.

The impending departures have drawn attention to Jackson McDonald’s unusually ‘top heavy’ partnership structure. When ranked by number of partners (27) it is the second largest law firm in Perth, according to WA Business News Book of Lists. However, when rank-ed by the total number of legal professionals (91) it is only sixth largest.

By way of comparison, Freehills has 34 partners and 176 legal professionals while Blake Dawson Waldron has 19 partners and 130 legal professionals.

Jackson McDonald is unique in Perth, as a large firm that is independent of any national alliances. It promotes its independence as an attribute although industry watchers believe this has reduced its ability to win work.

The partners who are planning to leave are continuing to work for Jackson McDonald while serving out their notice period.

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