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Niche focus in law mergers

TWO Perth law firms have completed mergers this month, with Q Legal joining with a Queensland firm, and Nedlands-based Cullen Babington Macleod buying a specialist liquor-licensing practice and adopting a new name.

Founded by former Clayton Utz partner Kevin Dundo, Q Legal has merged with the much larger HopgoodGanim, which acts for more than a third of ASX-listed mining and resources companies based in Brisbane.

HopgoodGanim managing partner Bruce Humphrys said he hoped the firm could achieve similar market penetration among mining and resources companies in Western Australia, while better servicing its existing Queensland clients.

“A lot of our clients are either based in Perth or have operations in Western Australia, and this merger means we’ll be able to better service our existing client base,” Mr Humphrys said.

The combined firm will have 15 staff in the Perth office, including newly recruited partner Bert Gianotti.

Mr Gianotti was admitted as a partner of Stone James in Perth in 1979, and remained with the firm for more than 15 years, including through its transition to Mallesons Stephen Jaques (now King & Wood Mallesons).

He has returned to private practice after spending the past 15 years in the property sector.

HopgoodGanim has 222 staff in Brisbane, including 27 partners.

Meanwhile, Cullen Babington Hughes has become Cullen Babington Macleod following two major changes.

It has acquired GD Crocket & Co, lifting its staff numbers from 24 to a combined total of 30 people.

GD Crocket & Co was established in 2005 by former Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Gavin Crocket, and specialises in liquor licensing law.

Following the acquisition, Mr Crocket has been appointed as a director and Susan Nicholson as a senior associate.

Cullen Babington Macleod director Catriona Macleod said the acquisition would complement the firm’s existing specialty areas of litigation, franchising, property and general commercial work.

“We’re targeting a very specialised and growing area of law, which is liquor licencing, and this growth is being driven by the changing nature of Perth, including the growth of small boutique bars coupled with the consolidation of larger liquor outlets,” she said.

Further to the acquisition, one of Cullen Babington Hughes’ three original partners, Michael Hughes, has left to set up his own property specialist firm, Michael Hughes Legal.

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