TWO MAJOR telecommunications lawyers have been lured by Corrs Chambers Westgarth from Freehills in an effort to make the firm’s intellectual property and technology (IPT) group leaders in the country.
Both Andrew Messenger and James North have been appointed partners in the group, which will benefit from their extensive association with Vodafone, along with other similarly lucrative clients.
And considering Messenger’s considerable role in Vietnam for Freehills — where he established an ongoing association with a local Hanoi firm — Corrs hopes to leverage that experience to make valuable inroads into legal markets in Asia, with a focus on Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
In the two decades he worked for Freehills, Messenger received recruitment offers of varying degrees and quality from other firms, though he only seriously considered one from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer while he was working in Vietnam, until Corrs approached him, that is.
“The observation that I would care to make now is that there is an energy and commitment at Corrs around building a telecommunications focus group,” Messenger told Lawyers Weekly.
“I have just found that particularly persuasive. Also I believe that really, given the talent that Corrs already has, and with the addition of [North] and myself, what we now have at Corrs is a national telco/IT group which I think can rival any other major firm.”
The attraction of telco giant Vodafone as a client is obvious, and both Messenger and North have extensive experience in providing service agreements and network sharing arrangements.
Growth of the firm’s IPT group will hopefully allow for an offer of “a full suite of services to telco clients, and that would include, of course, regulatory advice,” Messenger said. “I would see our closest rivals in relation to the telecommunications offering would be Mallesons [Stephen Jaques] and Gilbert + Tobin.”
Not only will that experience translate to the offering of competitive services in this country, but it also stands Corrs in good stead to seize telecommunications and IT work in key Asian jurisdictions, Messenger said.
Given Messenger’s work with Freehills in Hanoi, he said Corrs had discussed ways to leverage his Asian experience, though it had no plans to open an office outside of Australia.
Corrs’ strategy does not involve a “bricks and mortar approach”, but “there is a very strong commitment amongst Corrs partners, including myself, to leverage the experience we have to pursue opportunities in North and South Asia, and in India,” Messenger said. “It’s a fly in-fly out model, which I think has proven very successful to firms like Corrs, and would hope even more so, with me coming across.” He said that the experience he and North has had with teclos will be a huge advantage for Corrs in Asia.
“We’ve done things like manage services agreements and network sharing arrangements, which are things that you can really leverage and use in the Asian market, where I think you are going to see a lot more of this kind of work.”
Along with the work North has done with Messenger, he also brings notable experience from his early days at Ebsworth & Ebsworth, along with a five-year stint spent with London heavyweight Allen & Overy.
Work with the Magic Circle firm in London brought the opportunity to do “amazing IT and telco work,” North said, involving some of the biggest transactions.
North said he was attracted to the partnership at Corrs on the strength of its IPT group, boasting existing clients such as Microsoft.