13/09/2016 - 15:25

Mills Oakley expands WA practice

13/09/2016 - 15:25

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

National law firm Mills Oakley has substantially expanded its Perth practice with the recruitment of partners Julian Atkinson and David McKenna, whose previous firm Jarman McKenna has entered merger discussions with Sparke Helmore Lawyers.

Mills Oakley expands WA practice
David McKenna (left) and Julian Atkinson have joined Mills Oakley. Photo: Attila Csaszar

National law firm Mills Oakley has substantially expanded its Perth practice with the recruitment of partners Julian Atkinson and David McKenna, whose previous firm Jarman McKenna has entered merger discussions with Sparke Helmore Lawyers.

Mr Atkinson was previously a principal of Kings Park Corporate Lawyers, where he specialised in listings, capital raisings, takeovers and ASIC investigations.

Also joining Mills Oakley from Kings Park Corporate Lawyers are special counsel Kerrie Papamihail and two junior lawyers.

Along with the recent hire of special counsel Andrew Crean from DLA Piper, this means Mills Oakley has doubled the size of its Perth corporate and commercial team to 10 lawyers.

In addition, Mills Oakley has bolstered its insurance practice with the recruitment of Mr McKenna plus his team of three lawyers and one assistant.

These changes come just a few weeks after Mills Oakley appointed Kate Walawski and Daniel White as special counsel in its new workplace relations and employment law practice.

Collectively, these changes have expanded the Perth practice to seven partners and a total of 34 lawyers, making it the 21st largest law firm in WA listed on the BNiQ Search Engine.

Mills Oakley CEO John Nerurker said that building a genuinely national footprint was about cultural fit and client fit.

“In David, for example, we have a partner who shares a number of common clients and relationships with our east coast practice, so we will be able to provide a seamless national service for these clients,” he said.

“Meanwhile, corporate continues to be a real engine room for the entire firm and the addition of Julian, Kerrie and Andrew to the team adds a new international dimension to the team.”

Mr McKenna currently performs all of the WA work for the James Hardie Asbestos Injuries Compensation and counts Allianz and Catholic Church Insurance as clients.

He told Business News that one of his major clients had advised it would not be prepared to move to Sparke Helmore because of potential conflicts, primarily in the eastern states.

Mr McKenna said he was subsequently approached by Mills Oakley, and found real synergies with the insurance practice established by Mark Civitella.

He and Mr Atkinson highlighted the professional support provided by Mills Oakley as an attraction.

Mr Atkinson said the main reason for his move was that he needed a larger national platform to support the increasing amount of offshore work he was undertaking.

Meanwhile, Mr McKenna's former colleague Piet Jarman announced last week that Jarman McKenna had entered formal merger discussions with Sparke Helmore.

The merger would be a very large boost for Sparke Helmore, which has 650 people nationally but just two partners and 17 legal staff in its Perth office.

Jarman McKenna has grown substantially since 2003 and last year was ranked as the 12th largest law firm on the BNiQ Search Engine - it currently has eight partners and 36 legal professionals (after the recent departures).

Sparke Helmore's chairman of partners Mark Hickey said the potential merger was part of its renewed growth strategy.

“Joining forces with Jarman McKenna's strong team of insurance litigators will bring in new expertise, which will be hugely beneficial for our clients,” Mr Hickey said.

Mr Jarman said the insurance litigation market in Perth and across Australia has become increasingly competitive.

“Sparke Helmore is an established and reputable firm that shares our values and ambitions, so it makes sense to explore this opportunity, which would expand the offering we provide and greatly benefit our clients," he said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options