Folklaw loves a party, so it made sure the postman was not taking a sickie when it got wind that Clifford Chance would be having its opening shindig at Giullaume at the Opera House on Tuesday night (3 May).
With a band playing and the beautiful surrounds of Sydney Harbour in the background, Mark Pistilli, the new Sydney managing partner of the magic circle firm, welcomed the assembled guests. And, just to emphasise how relieved everyone is that his firm, Chang, Pistilli & Simmons alongside the WA-based Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe can now both be simplified to "Clifford Chance", he got mixed up with the order of the CLCL names. An easy thing to do.
As the mood loosened, with the fine wine accompanying canapés which involved a combination of animals and condiments Folklaw didn't realise were scientifically possible, Folklaw wondered the room looking to speak with any of Clifford Chance's international lawyers and ask them why they have set-up shop in a country that is notorious for its high quality of lawyers and a competitive marketplace.
Folkaw didn't have to go too far for an answer.
One senior partner told Folklaw that a particularly well known large Australian firm was rejected as a suitor because "80 per cent of their partners are baggage, with only 20 per cent doing things that are here" while another China based partner told Folklaw that while Australian lawyers are well regarded and the firms are seen as competent, they are not amongst the heavy hitters on the ground. Why not? Folklaw asked, "because they don't have the headcount we have," said partner replied, leaving Folklaw to wonder if any baggage could be relocated on the law firm conveyor belt to China.
As Folklaw continued to press the flesh, it couldn't help but notice the large amounts of clients and prominent lawyers from other firms in attendance - like Peter Slattery, the managing partner from JWS. But alas, Folklaw didn't spy Robert Milliner from Mallesons.
Folklaw speculates that it would be like going to the wedding of a former lover.
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