6 more partners say goodbye to HDY

By Tom Lodewyke|16 November 2017

Two weeks ahead of Henry Davis York’s combination with Norton Rose Fulbright, six more partners have declined the proposition.

Lawyers Weekly understands that six more Henry Davis York partners have declined to sign the partnership agreement for the combined firm, ahead of the 1 December merger date.

This brings the tally of partners who have left the firm since the merger announcement to 20. 

Restructuring and insolvency partner Kathy Merrick and corporate and commercial partner Ted Nixey have left for Gadens’ Sydney office.


The others who have declined to sign the new partnership agreement are construction partner and board member Michael Bampton, real estate partner and team leader Jennifer Degotardi, corporate and M&A head Robert Tracy and Canberra property and construction partner Ben Fuller.

Their destinations are as yet unclear. Their LinkedIn profiles still list their firm as Henry Davis York.

In a joint press statement issued on 7 November, the firms said 34 HDY partners would be joining the combined firm on 1 December.

A spokesperson from HDY declined to provide official comment on the partners who were understood not to be joining NRF, but said they were not included in the 34.

“As the managing partners said earlier this month, 34 HDY partners will be joining Norton Rose Fulbright when the two firms combine, with the official start on track for 1 December 2017,” the spokesperson said.


Ms Merrick had been with HDY since 2000. She was the firm's practice group leader in the corporate and regulatory investigations and disputes team, and head of corporate social responsibility. She is now a partner in the disputes team at Gadens.

Ms Merrick said in a statement that she was attracted to Gadens’ culture.

“Gadens offers an attractive team and culture that is focused on delivering strategic legal and commercial solutions to their clients,” she said.

“The firm is well recognised in the Australian market for their depth of expertise in disputes and litigation. Joining Gadens presents great opportunities to continue working on large corporate projects, alongside some of Australia's most highly regarded solicitors.”

Gadens CEO Grant Scott-Hayward said Ms Merrick’s appointment would boost Gadens’ profile in Sydney.

“Kathy is a tremendous appointment for Gadens and one that will significantly augment our profile in the Sydney market,” he said.

“She has an exceptional reputation as a key advisor to clients and has advised on many of Australias largest corporate disputes, collapses and investigations.”

HDY exodus timeline

May: 25 staff retrenched in Sydney

HDY’s Sydney office bears the brunt of a shock decision to let six fee-earning lawyers and 19 business support personnel go. Explaining the difficult move, a spokesperson for HDY said that the firm was improving its business model and operational structure “to ensure we offer our clients value in this transformational environment”.

“This is nothing new. We, like a number of peer firms, have constantly evolved and adapted in the last 100 years,” the HDY spokesperson said.

The cuts made up about 6 per cent of HDY’s lawyers and 12 per cent of the business support team in Sydney. No partners were sacked.

August: Five partners shed

Ex-HDY partners Michael Catchpoole, Cameron Cheetham, Ben Emblin, Craig Ensor and Patrick O’Grady walked away from the tie-up to join Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Sydney. The group made up a significant portion of HDY’s restructuring and insolvency talent.

September: One partner shed

HDY lost insurance partner Louise Cantrill to Mills Oakley in late September.

October: Seven partners shed

HDY workplace relations duo Tony Woods and Stephen Jauncey chased greener pastures at Lander & Rogers in Sydney.

HDY intellectual property leader Donna Short left for commercial boutique firm Addisons in Sydney.

HDY disputes leader Jason Munstermann and employment and safety expert Scarlet Reid exited for McCullough Robertson in October.

Former HDY co-head of corporate M&A Ben Mortimer and technology practice head Matthew McMillan also quit for McCullough Robertson in October.

November: Seven partners shed

HDY Canberra heavyweight Debra Tippett was revealed to be departing for Clayton Utz, leaving managing partner Michael Greene to lead the government practice.

Partners Kathy Merrick, Ted Nixey, Michael Bampton, Jennifer Degotardi, Robert Tracy and Ben Fuller are understood to have declined to sign the new partnership agreement.

6 more partners say goodbye to HDY
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