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Another global enters Oz market

Another global enters Oz market

Global law firm Clyde & Co is set to open offices in Sydney and Perth after poaching eight lawyers from Allens.

The UK-headquartered firm will enter the Australian market on 1 October, the same day Freehills’ merger with international law firm Herbert Smith takes effect.

Clyde & Co’s Australian practice will initially target contentious insurance and reinsurance work.

Three of the former Allens lawyers will be based in Sydney, one will remain in Perth and the other four will work from Clyde & Co’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices.

Six of the eight new recruits were partners at Allens.

John Edmond, group leader of Allens’ insurance and reinsurance practice, will be one of Clyde & Co’s Sydney-based partners. He returns to Clyde & Co after a 14-year stint at Allens.

Edmond revealed to Lawyers Weekly that the primary reason he left Allens was an increase in conflicts that would see his insurance practice lose out to banking and finance work.

“We had a lot of approaches from insurer clients where we were simply being conflicted out,” he said.

“On a day-to-day basis that has an effect on your practice and frustrates client relationships ... that’s obviously not good for a sustainable business.”

Another reason Edmond believed leaving Allens was “a sensible move” is the firm’s new strategic direction. Over the next three-to-five years he predicted the structure of the firm would phase out the type of standalone insurance practice he heads.

Change of direction

Allens confirmed it had made a strategic decision to concentrate on corporate work and complex and reputational litigation.

Michael Rose, chief executive partner of Allens, said the shift in focus for its insurance practice was in the pipeline even before the tie-up with Linklaters in April.

“We made the conscious decision to exit our insurance practice in Asia – the departure of a number of partners to Clyde & Co is the natural outworking of that,” he said.

Rose added that it was inevitable that firms, particularly the top tiers aligning with global firms, would continue to review and adjust their practice offerings.

“This is clearly now the reality in a rapidly-globalising legal market, and we have taken the opportunity to strategically shift our insurance practice to align more closely with Linklaters’ global practice, which focuses on insurance sector corporates and high-end corporate and litigation work.”

Edmond could not divulge the number or identity of clients that would be moving across to Clyde & Co, stating it was “a matter of ongoing discussion”. But he did reveal he was planning to build his client base in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the Sydney and Perth offices, Clyde & Co will have a total of 29 offices – including in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong – across six continents. Edmond said that Clyde & Co isn’t ruling out expansion into other Australian jurisdictions.

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