22/08/2014 - 14:29

Merger opens Gates

22/08/2014 - 14:29

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Eighteen months on from its acquisition of Perth-based law firm Middletons, US-based law practice K&L Gates says its expectations for the tie-up have been exceeded.

Merger opens Gates
PERFECT MATCH: Peter Kalis (left) and Nick Nichola say the merger of the two practices has paid dividends earlier than anticipated. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Eighteen months on from its acquisition of Perth-based law firm Middletons, US-based law practice K&L Gates says its expectations for the tie-up have been exceeded.  

Since the merger, K&L Gates global managing partner Peter Kalis said the law firm had increased its number of partners across Australia, with a particular focus on Perth.

“That’s fairly extraordinary because it’s not a secret that the resources boom flattened a bit during this timeframe,” Mr Kalis told Business News.

“We have brought a number of partners into Australian offices generally, but in Perth in particular.

“This is an environment where a lot of the leading Australian and international firms are paring back the number of partners and legal staff generally.”

Mr Kalis said the expertise of Middletons’ Perth-based lawyers had been an increasingly valuable addition to the K&L Gates empire, which spans 47 offices throughout North and South America, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“As Western Australia’s economy finely illustrates, national boundaries matter less to commerce than they did years ago,” he said.

“But paradoxically, national legal systems are more important.”

Mr Kalis said Perth’s geographical positioning in the same time zone of many of its Asian offices, particularly in Singapore and China, provided significant operational advantages.

“Our clients wish to exploit the regional synergies of their businesses,” he said.

“That’s how they are going to build their businesses, but at the same time they are going to encounter a number of sovereign legal systems.

“That’s where lawyers in our firm come in to basically assist them and advise them on managing down the significance of national boundaries from a legal standpoint.

“That’s a big deal for us, and from the perspective of the firm outside of Australia, there was pent-up demand from existing clients to have a high-end deployment of Australian lawyers in key markets.”

K&L Gates Australia managing partner Nick Nichola said the company’s Australian clients had also been pleased with the results of the tie-up.

“We as Middletons were very clear about our strategy and what we thought was the future for our clients, and our people, was to be part of a truly globally integrated law firm,” Mr Nichola said.

“It’s made a positive difference to our clients’ lives and their businesses, and for our clients that are focused either locally, regionally or nationally, they now have access to a deeper bench strength.”

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