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Exclusive: Pipers Sydney head dances to a new tune

Exclusive: Pipers Sydney head dances to a new tune

The head of Piper Alderman’s Sydney office, Frazer Hunt, is joining Mills Oakley with a team of lawyers.

Hunt (pictured), a commercial litigator practising predominantly in the insurance sector, is set to start at Mills on 24 November.

The three lawyers in his team below partner level are also going with him.

Lawyers Weekly further understands that it was the attraction of Hunt’s major client, Suncorp, which piqued the interest of Mills Oakley.

“The attraction of working for a firm with a national insurance practice, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, was a major factor for me in joining Mills Oakley,” said Hunt when speaking to Lawyers Weekly.

Hunt was the only insurance partner in Pipers’ Sydney office.

Hunt has been a partner at Pipers for 11 years, and is also a past president of the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand.

While Hunt also acts for other national insurers, Mills Oakley’s stable of insurance clients includes Allianz, Lumley, QBE, CGU, Calliden, Jardine Lloyd Thomson, Statewide Mutual, Real Insurance (Woolworths) and Auto & General (Budget Direct).

Hunt’s departure is the latest in a series of setbacks for Pipers during the course of 2014.

Just last week, IP and technology partner Richard Chew left Pipers to join Sparke Helmore’s Sydney office.

In March senior partner Robert Speirs, who led the firm’s property practice in Sydney and Melbourne, left Pipers with senior associate James Ryan to launch their own boutique practice.

Class actions partner Sasha Ivanstoff, who launched the Vodafone class action in 2013, also left Pipers Sydney office to join Shine Lawyers in January.

Pipers’ foundation Adelaide office has also had a challenging year.

In February Lawyers Weekly exclusively revealed that seven staff, including three senior associates, were made redundant in Adelaide.

More recently in July, Pipers poached corporate partners David Bradley from Lander & Rogers and David Cornwell from Gadens.

Hunt’s sign-on is the latest in a number of lateral partner hires made by Mills Oakley this year.

The expanding mid-tier firm took Tony Butler, the head of DLA Piper's Brisbane real estate practice in April, just one month after nabbing Pipers’ corporate partner Simon Champion and Sparke Helmore government partner Rohan White.

Mills Oakley has more than 60 partners and 350 staff in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra.

The latter office was opened last month after Mills Oakley announced that Vince Sharma, who had just retired from Norton Rose Fulbright’s partnership, would head the 11-strong new office.

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