24/10/2006 - 22:00

Legal growth

24/10/2006 - 22:00

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Allens Arthur Robinson and Deacons have achieved the largest and most consistent growth among Perth’s major law firms over the past five years, according to the WA Business News Book of Lists.

Legal growth

Allens Arthur Robinson and Deacons have achieved the largest and most consistent growth among Perth’s major law firms over the past five years, according to the WA Business News Book of Lists.

Allens currently employs 70 legal professionals and 122 staff in total in its Perth office, making it the 8th largest law firm in Perth.

More significantly, the number of legal professionals has nearly doubled since the merged firm of Allens Arthur Robinson commenced operation in 2001.

Allens, and its predecessor firm Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks, has built its Perth practice from scratch.

In contrast, most of the big national law firms moved into the Perth market by acquiring an established legal practice.

With mining giant Rio Tinto being one of Allens’ main clients, the resources boom has provided plenty of growth opportunities, but Perth practice director Nic Tolé said there was more to the firm’s success.

“While the Perth practice has always had a strong resources practice, we have recently enjoyed growth in our construction, corporate and commercial and litigation and dispute resolution practices,” he said.

Mr Tolé said Allens was still on the lookout for new staff to support its growth, and noted that two of its six new partner appointments were in the Perth office.

Deacons, which evolved from local firm Warren McDonald French & Harrison, currently has 54 legal professionals, up by 35 per cent over the past five years.

Perth chairman Chris McLeod attributed the firm’s steady expansion to the financial integration of the Perth office with the national practice in 2001.

“The growth has really come from the benefits of national integration,” Mr McLeod said.

He said another factor was the firm’s ability to attract lawyers from other firms, such as Derek La Ferla, Shaun Temby and Jenni Hill.

Mr McLeod said the practice areas achieving the largest growth included corporate and commercial, which was currently handling Nomad Building Solutions’ $78 million initial public offering, as well as property and banking and finance.

Freehills continued to be ranked as WA’s largest law firm, with 191 legal professionals, followed by Blake Dawson Waldron (115) and Clayton Utz (101).

The biggest Perth-based firm was Lavan Legal with 96 legal professionals, putting it just ahead of Jackson McDonald.

A big change in this year’s Book of Lists was the re-emergence of Phillips Fox, which lost most of its staff earlier this year to Lavan Legal but recovered some lost ground by merging last month with Gadens Lawyers.

Meanwhile, the $14 million stock market float of Integrated Legal Holdings has provided a rare insight into the value of legal practices.

ILH will be Australia’s first listed consolidator of legal firms, and plans to acquire five existing businesses.

Talbot Olivier Lawyers, which is Perth’s 15th largest law firm with 27 legal staff, will be purchased for $2.2 million.

ILH is also purchasing Brett Davies Lawyers for $604,000 and Durack Zilko for $343,000.

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