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How to manage cohesion when merging firms

This Adelaide-based SME discussed its recent merger and the benefits of combining a relatively young firm with older practitioners, as well as how to manage firm cohesion in the merging process.

user iconJess Feyder 30 March 2023 Big Law
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Adelaide firm Andreyev Lawyers has recently announced its merger with the firm Christie & Associates. 

The firm will continue to run under the Andreyev Lawyers branding and name.

Andreyev Lawyers has offices in Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, but the merged staff will be primarily based in Adelaide. 


Andrew Andreyev, partner at the firm, spoke to Lawyers Weekly about the benefits of merging with another practice. 

“We have traditionally ‘grown our own’ team internally,” he noted.

“Our entire team of 18 lawyers started with us as junior lawyers,” he said. “This is why we have grown relatively slowly over the past 23 years, but we have put down deep roots.”

Harry and Caroline Christie are experienced commercial lawyers with over 60 years of practice between them, Mr Andreyev said in a statement.

“We see the merger as an opportunity to match the experience and wisdom of senior practitioners like Harry and Caroline with our team of relatively young and energetic lawyers.

“Harry and Caroline can pass on their knowledge and clients to our team, who are eager to learn. It’s a win-win,” he stated. 

Having run their own practices for decades, Harry and Caroline want to ensure their loyal clients are taken care of when they decide to wind down their legal careers.”

Mr Andreyev also discussed the importance of ensuring cohesion between firms when undertaking a merger.

“We have a strong culture of ‘learning and teaching’,” he noted.

“We require our team to commit to a heavy schedule of internal professional development (at least five hours per week, every week) and accept the challenge of working as ‘generalists’ across a broad range of commercial law matters.”

He continued: “Because we have grown our own team internally, there is the risk that we develop an echo chamber.”

“It was important to us that Harry and Caroline see the merger as an opportunity to expose our team to new perspectives.”

“Having senior practitioners join us towards the end of their careers injects new thinking into how we work.”

Mr Andreyev continued: “We track internal ‘collaboration’ and actively ensure that people do not get stuck working under one person.

“This ensures that young lawyers get exposed to a variety of work approaches and perspectives as they develop into well-rounded professionals.”  

Mr Andreyev noted that their in-house technology team had advanced the processes of the firm, noting that their “unusual” systems can be a challenge for new people joining, particularly senior practitioners.

To address this, the firm has “done everything we can to make it painless, including allocating two team members to each of Harry and Caroline to help them interface their current practices with our own”, he explained.

Mr Andreyev also revealed how to effectively manage firm cohesion with firms operating in different locations. 

“It has been tough growing and maintaining a common culture in more than one place over time — but it’s worth it,” noted Mr Andreyev.

He explained: “Having two offices means we get exposed to a lot of different clients and referrers, as well as different talent pools.

“It allows us to give Adelaide lawyers the chance to work in the ‘big city’ without losing them to another firm.

“However, two offices are more than enough for us to handle at this stage. If we did establish a new office, it would probably be because one of our existing team moved, rather than a merger. They would take our culture with them and plant it in fresh soil!

In terms of how the firm will run its two offices cohesively, Mr Andreyev said: “We apply a ‘one-firm, two locations philosophy’.

“We do this through our ‘internal rhythm’, daily stand-ups, fortnightly retrospectives, structured training three times per week. This involves the entire team.

“We have an unrestricted policy on travel between the two offices.”

The merger will take effect this April. 

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