The new financial year has triggered a series of changes at the top of Perth’s big law firms with senior partners leaving MinterEllison, Clayton Utz and Freehills.
His departure will be offset by the recruitment of Freehills corporate partner Kevin O’Sullivan, who will join Clayton Utz in September.
Minter Ellison managing partner Sean Larkan is another person leaving a big firm to start a new business, in his case as an independent consultant.
Mr Larkan will cease active involvement in the partnership from September 1 and will formally retire from the firm at the end of March next year.
He told WA Business News he was ready for a new challenge and now had an opportunity to work as an independent consultant.
Among other changes at Minter, commercial litigation partner Peter Doherty retired on June 30 to practice as a barrister, while insurance partner Bruce Goetze is retiring after being appointed a judge of the District Court of Western Australia.
The departures follow the recruitment earlier this year of Darwin lawyer Duncan Maclean, who practices in energy and resources.
Mr O’Sullivan runs a general corporate practice with a resource focus.
It is understood his move reflects Freehills’ strategy of having highly specialised partners operating in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, construction, and oil and gas.
Mr McKenzie is planning to establish a new firm that will offer its staff more opportunity for outside commercial activities.
Clayton Utz, like other national law firms, in most cases does not allow its staff to accept public company board positions or pursue commercial ventures.
Mr McKenzie said he still wanted to practice law but also had other interests.
“I wanted a bit more flexibility to do those other things,” he said.
His commercial activities include a “reasonably substantial” property development in joint venture with a listed Perth company.
Mr McKenzie has also accepted a board position with Mundo Minerals, an emerging gold producer that is planning a stock market float (see article below).
“People who want to go into company director positions are not able to do that in a national structure,” he said.
Mr McKenzie said that after being an insolvency specialist for many years, the new firm would allow him to operate in other corporate and commercial practice areas.