NEW Australian legal giant Allens Arthur Robinson plans to double its Perth office within three years as the AAR merger partners focus on the potential of WA for strategic growth.AAR is the formalisation of a long defacto marriage of two of Australia’s largest law firms, Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks and Allen, Allen & Hemsley.The new merged firm will have 11 offices, in six countries, and comprise a work force in excess of 1600 staff. In Perth, the firm has grown to six partners and 60 professional staff in four years, but has big expansion plans.The AAR merger partners claim growing demand for an integrated service, from a law firm that can work alongside clients internationally rather thanjust nationally is behind the decision to amalgamate.AAR managing partner Tom Poulton said the merger was simply following changes in other parts of the business community“Where once an Australian company wanted to do business in Sydney or Melbourne, now they’re just as likely to want to do it in Singapore or Shanghai,” Mr Poulton said.AAR has 35 lawyers and partners permanently posted offshore. However, Australian-based lawyers regularly fly in to assist them with transactions.The Perth office of Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks was established in 1997, following a split with Perth firm, Parker & Parker.After several years of working within the Australian Legal Group, Parker & Parker decided to leave and join one of AAR’s main competitors, the national firm Freehills.AAR Perth managing partner Nic Tole said that Perth was considered a key plank of growth across the AAR Group.“The west coast office will leverage off the combined AAR client base and play a vital role in key national practice groups,” Mr Tole saidArthur Robinson & Hedderwicks has a focus at the senior end of the commercial, energy/resources and infrastructure sectors.“On current trends and with the impetus of the AAR merger, we anticipate that it will double in size in Perth, in the next three years, he said.”Mr Tole is unfazed by the inevitable problem of client conflicts, the unwanted by-product of any merger.“We have had a conflicts committee working on these sorts of issues for more than 12 months. We do not believe we have to choose one client over the other. We do not expect to lose any clients in this merger,” he said.
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