It was Webb Henderson’s “international coverage on a boutique scale” that attracted Andrew Christopher to the firm.
He said he hopes this will allow him to work on a more regular and immediate basis with his clients.
“I think it’s a big driver for a lot of senior lawyers who crave or miss the opportunity to have daily and routine dealings with clients,” Christopher said.
“[The firm’s] structure doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on formal administration … it’s more direct and client-centric, so I think that comes with having a smaller scale but also a slightly different approach to practice.”
Webb Henderson’s London and Singapore offices offer his clients a global platform, albeit not on the same scale as Bakers, but sufficient for their across-market needs, he added.
Christopher has acted for a wide range of clients in diverse industries, including telecommunications, media, transport, energy & resources and food & other consumer goods. He has also advised the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other state and Commonwealth agencies and departments on competition issues in the merger area, enforcement work and tribunal work.
His more recent clients include Optus, KFC and Pizza Hut, British American Tobacco, Aldi, Sims Group and Aventis.
“I enjoy the mix of policy, economics and law,” he said.
Christopher will be leading initiatives in the competition law area at Webb Henderson – which is something of a product extension for the firm, he said.
“I’ll be focusing on disputes related to the industries and practice areas that Webb Henderson already has; so regulatory competition, disputes, franchising and media and telecoms will be the main ones,” he said.
Christopher joined Bakers as a partner in 1999, prior to that he was a partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Sydney.
He said the most significant change to his practice area has been the shift in emphasis from being a technical advisor to a more commercial and business advisor.
“Obviously most clients are looking for a mix of technical expertise and commercial advice, but the mix and orientation over the last few years has moved considerably towards applied and commercial aspects of law: industry focus, business advice,” said Christopher, adding that 20 years ago you could succeed and do well if you were a strong technical lawyer but now you’ve got to bring a lot more to the table.
Webb Henderson has 32 lawyers working across offices in Singapore, London, Sydney and Auckland. Christopher is the ninth partner for the firm.