21/01/2015 - 15:50

Three ‘new’ law firms for Perth

21/01/2015 - 15:50

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The break-up of once-prominent law firm Rockwell Olivier is expected to result in the opening of three ‘new’ firms in Perth, with the Civic Legal brand being revived, Taylor Olivier being launched, and Melbourne-based Mills Oakley Lawyers coming to town.

Three ‘new’ law firms for Perth
The new team at Civic Legal.

The break-up of once-prominent law firm Rockwell Olivier is expected to result in the opening of three ‘new’ firms in Perth, with the Civic Legal brand being revived, Taylor Olivier being launched, and Melbourne-based Mills Oakley Lawyers coming to town.

The biggest of these, from a WA perspective, is Civic Legal, which has been de-merged from Rockwell Olivier and bolstered its ranks by recruiting former Rockwell Olivier partner Gray Porter.

Civic will move into new premises in West Perth next month, with a team of 14 people led by managing principal Anthony Quahe.

Rockwell Olivier’s former managing principal, Brendan Taylor, is planning to operate under the name Taylor Olivier, according to an update to his Linkedin profile.

Family law specialist Kym Kerr is also on the move, helping Melbourne-based Mills Oakley Lawyers establish a Perth presence.

Mills Oakley chief executive John Nerurker told Business News the firm would open its Perth office in March but said it was too early to name other members of the team.

The firm has 60 partners and 350 staff, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

Also emerging from the ruins of ILH and Rockwell Olivier is Perth-based legal document supplier Law Central, which is being run by John Wojtowicz.

The break-up of Rockwell Olivier Perth (previously known as Talbot Olivier) followed the firm being placed into voluntary administration on January 4, about two weeks after the failure of its ASX-listed parent company ILH Group.

The failure of Rockwell Olivier Perth also followed numerous staff losses over the past two years.

Recent departures included Paul Kordic, who started with Jarman McKenna last month, and Greg Mohen, who resigned from Rockwell Olivier last November and started his new role this week as a partner at Kott Gunning, where he will practice in the local government, commercial and private client areas.

At its peak in 2009, Talbot Olivier was the 12th largest law firm in Perth with 10 partners and 65 staff, according to the Business News Book of Lists.

Mr Quahe said he was pleased to revive the Civic Legal brand, which became part of ILH in 2011 and merged with Rockwell Olivier last year.

“While it’s been a challenging time, we are absolutely delighted that Civic Legal has been able to emerge completely unscathed from the turmoil of Rockwell Olivier Perth’s administration on 4 January,” he said.

“It’s been business as usual ever since, and we are now looking forward to moving into our new premises in Havelock Street.

“This is a great outcome for our staff and our clients.”

Mr Quahe, said Civic Legal was quickly identified as one of the successful practices within ILH, enabling it to achieve a seamless transfer of both core staff members and clients across to the revived firm.

The new Civic Legal team comprises six lawyers, including special counsel Karyn Thomson and Andrew Read, along with two paralegals and six support staff.

Civic Legal has retained its status as a preferred supplier of legal services for the WA Local Government Association (WALGA).

Mr Porter, who specialises in insurance and workplace risk, continues to supply legal services to the Insurance Commission of Western Australia, other insurers and private business.

Mr Quahe said the relaunch provided an opportunity.

“Independence will allow the firm to throw off the constraints of the big firms and focus on the simple and important parts of legal practice, enabling us to provide a fast turnaround of high quality legal work at competitive rates,” he said.

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