THE international merger of law firms Freehills and Herbert Smith is turning out to be more simple, according to joint chief executive Gavin Bell.Detailed planning for the merger, which took effect this week, had confirmed the initial view that the two firms would be a good fit.“A key factor was how successfully we could integrate,” Mr Bell told WA Business News.“We want the firm to look consistent worldwide,” he added. “From a client’s point of view, it will be one firm.“But we’re still paddling very fast under the water. More internal integration needs to be completed.”Mr Bell said one of the factors Freehills and Herbert Smith looked at early was the potential for conflict between their clients.“The opposite has been the case,” he said. “The number of common clients has been more than we had expected.”A notable example is Woodside, which was already a client of both firms.Mr Bell said the merged firm would be able to offer a broader suite of services to shared clients.“We have more depth than other international firms in Perth can offer,” he claimed.The merged firm will be overseen by a ‘global council’, which includes newly appointed Perth managing partner Tony Joyner.The council has four members who hail from Perth, including Mr Bell, who completed his schooling at Marist Brothers in Subiaco before moving interstate.
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