18/03/2009 - 22:00

Shake-up for local lawyers

18/03/2009 - 22:00

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TWO of Perth's mid-sized law firms are heading in different directions, with Hammond Worthington Lawyers planning to split up after 17 years and Christensen Vaughan joining national firm Gadens Lawyers.

TWO of Perth's mid-sized law firms are heading in different directions, with Hammond Worthington Lawyers planning to split up after 17 years and Christensen Vaughan joining national firm Gadens Lawyers.

Hammond Worthington principal partner John Hammond instigated the split, which will divide the firm into three separate entities from April 27 - Hammond Legal, Doray Solicitors, and MGB Legal.

Mr Hammond said after 23 years practising law, he prompted the change in direction to spend more time actually working on the law.

"I'm hoping the change in size will mean we can have more time to spend on legal issues and resolving legal disputes," Mr Hammond told WA Business News.

"I think the more people you have, unless you're a very large organisation, it really means a lot more management is involved.

"You either need to be the size of a Lavan Legal or Freehills, with HR managers and account managers, or I think you have to go very small."

Hammond Legal will have five lawyers, a total of eight staff, and remain at its current location on St Georges Terrace for the time being.

The firm will specialise in commercial litigation, industrial relations, local government, crime and indigenous affairs.

MGB Legal, with its nine staff, of which three are lawyers, will be located in East Perth and focus on property and commercial litigation.

Matthew Ellis, who will be MGB Legal director, hopes to bring on fellow MGB lawyers Gabrielle Wong and Bogdan Soactar as directors in the short to medium term.

"I've been at Hammond for eight years, and a partner for six years, so I've had a fairly good run at running a firm as executive partner," Mr Ellis said.

"I'm confident, all the clients are very positive and the general feeling is it's a good thing.

"The only constant in life is change, so you deal with it and move on."

All but two of the current 11 lawyers and 23 staff working at Hammond Worthington will be joining the three new firms.

Meanwhile, Christensen Vaughan principal partner Lee Christensen has spent the past year looking to link up with a large, national practice, resulting in the union with Gadens.

When the two firms merge in Perth on May 1, they will have six partners and 45 staff based on St Georges Terrace.

Until March 1, Christensen Vaughan had been part of the Kennedy Strang Legal Group, a federation of five independent law firms now seeking a replacement member.

Mr Christensen said Gadens in Perth wasn't reflective of the full service or commercial type practice the firm had on the eastern seaboard.

"It's given both firms access to a large range of big clients," he said.

"Joining Gadens Lawyers enables us to grow our existing insolvency/reconstruction practice and add depth to our corporate, banking and property teams."

Mr Hammond denied his move had anything to do with the economic downturn, emphasising there was an abundance of business around.

He said his colleague, Wilfred Doray, would be specialising purely in family law from the offices of Doray Solicitors in Mt Pleasant.

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