BOUTIQUE FIRM Vaughan Barnes has closed down, with principal partner Philip Smith and several staff members finding a new home in Sydney firm Cutler Hughes & Harris.
Smith has become a partner in Cutlers’ corporate and commercial team, bringing the number of partners to 12 along with about 80 staff.
“For a number of reasons it was the right time for [Smith] to join up with a larger firm, and with his expertise and client base we are now well positioned as a key player in the franchise market,” Tom Boyce, Cutlers’ executive partner, said.
This is the latest in many strategic moves that Cutler has made of late involving the acquisition of key partners from rival firms.
“It’s a real growth phase for Cutlers,” Boyce said. “Attracting senior talent is one of the firm’s key strategies.”
Recently Cutlers has also picked up Jacquie Seemann of Minter Ellison to head up its employment practice, as well as Paul Vergotis as a senior associate in its planning & environment group from boutique firm Matthews Folbigg, and Bernard Tan, from Maddocks, as special counsel in property.
“And we will be announcing another senior appointment to our tax group next week,” he said.
Other firms should be put on notice that Cutlers intends to keep expanding through lateral hires.
“In the short term, we are looking to attract the senior talent to take the firm forward, especially in the areas where we currently punch above our weight, so we can compete at the highest levels,” Boyce said.
“Other areas we are focusing on are succession planning and retaining our talent, which seems to be an issue for the legal sector generally.
“In the long term, we will be using our market leading capability in areas such as health to attract bigger work from bigger clients,” he said.
Boyce believes that the recent appointment of Smith will help Cutlers take advantage of a boom in the area of franchising.
“The franchising sector continues to experience double digit growth and we anticipate further activity next year, with an increasing number of private equity firms actively seeking franchise acquisitions.”