Queensland an ‘important gateway’ for regional growth for Kennedys

After promoting a “record” number of Australians to partner earlier this year and now expanding its national presence to Brisbane, global law firm Kennedys is “optimistic” about its outlook in Australia.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 27 July 2022 Big Law
Queensland an ‘important gateway’ for regional growth for Kennedys
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Two weeks ago, Lawyers Weekly reported that BigLaw firm Kennedys had opened an office in Brisbane. At the time, Australian managing partner Matt Andrews said that the firm has “long planned to extend our presence along the east coast and have already hit the ground running”.

The firm’s Australian arm currently comprises 21 partners and 120 staff, specialising in litigation and dispute resolution. It has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and now Brisbane, as well as being in 23 countries globally.

The Queensland move, explained

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Mr Andrews (pictured) said that Kennedys has been steadily expanding its office network over the last few years, and opening an office in Brisbane is the “capstone of our ambition to be on the ground in the major markets on the east coast, enabling us to offer seamless support to our clients that require national coverage”.

“Working remotely during the pandemic allowed us the opportunity to work with talented people irrespective of where they were physically located. As things opened up, the evolution from a virtual to a physical office was the logical next step,” he explained.

“Queensland is not just a thriving local market, but an important gateway to the northern region of Australia and beyond to Asia Pacific, so it is an ideal time to open an office in Brisbane.”

The scale of Kennedy’s offering in Queensland, Mr Andrews went on, will be determined by client demand, but its overall ambition is to have its offices across Australia mirror the offering in other major centres.

That is, he outlined, “a leading multi-line insurance and dispute resolution capability together with healthcare, employment, cyber, reputation and privacy expertise”.

“In Brisbane, the goal is to grow the team quite quickly — pleasingly, the feedback from clients to our launch announcement suggests that there is plenty of opportunity for us to do so,” he said.

“In addition to our local team, several partners from our other offices are expected to travel to Brisbane to work with national clients who are based there.”

Future expansion in Australia?

When asked if the firm is planning to unveil more offices across the country, Mr Andrews said that, for more than a decade, Kennedys ran a national practice from its base in Sydney before embarking on a program of office expansion, starting with Melbourne in 2017, followed by Perth in 2021, and now Brisbane.

The four offices give the firm a “strong foothold” in key national markets, he posited, allowing it to triple the size of its practice in the last five years,

“In addition, both Western Australia and Queensland are business gateways to Asia, and this will enable us to work even more closely with Kennedys offices, and clients, in south-east Asia,” he said.

“Having established our national office network, we continue to focus on growing the teams in each office. We promoted six new partners in May and are pursuing a number of lateral opportunities.”

Place in the market

On the question of the firm’s vision in Australia and regionally moving forward, Mr Andrews said that Kennedys does not intend to be all things to all people.

Instead, he said, “we want to be known as leading advisers in our areas of specialisation for our insurer clients and those with similar exposures”.

“We are optimistic about our outlook for Australia, but are equally engaged in the opportunities to work with our colleagues and clients in the 23 countries in which Kennedys has a presence,” he said.

“The insurance and litigation markets are very competitive, with a lot of very good people. We are continually looking for ways to improve opportunities and support for our people to establish and build long-term careers at the firm.

“We will continue to invest heavily in training and development opportunities to ensure our firm continues to hold a reputation for high-calibre lawyers and outstanding service.”

And, in detailing how Kennedys intends to compete against the rest of the market and shore up its Australian operations, Mr Andrews said that the firm is fortunate to have “very strong connections” across the global insurance industry, as a result of the size and reputation of its practice in London, and the number of partners and staff who have worked in other Kennedys offices.

“That ‘cross pollination’ between global markets via secondment and transfer continues as a number of our associates head to London, in particular, and vice versa. Some firms are concerned about the flight of talent. We embrace it as one of the advantages of being a global firm, and we are pleased to support our employees’ desire to gain overseas experience, while retaining their corporate knowledge and expertise within the firm,” he submitted.

“Due to this international collaboration, our people are across legal best practices from all over the world, and ultimately, they use that knowledge and experience for the benefit of our clients — and that helps us stand out.”