BRISBANE FIRM ClarkeKann last week announced a new move to Sydney in response to growing client needs south of the border.
Managing partner John Toigo told Lawyers Weekly that the move for the 41-year-old practice is an essential one.
“It’s a pretty big step for us. But it’s really been driven by the clients’ needs and demands,” he said.
“We’ve found in recent years, although we are Brisbane-based, we’ve been doing a lot more work being sourced from Sydney, such that we actually have quite a few clients in Sydney and surrounding areas.”
The primary aim of the firm is to get closer to its clients, as well as developing further contacts and work in the New South Wales market.
“Whilst we’ve been working in Brisbane, for want of a better term, [as] a specialist commercial law firm, our focus has always been on the higher end of the corporate and commercial market,” Toigo said.
“We get in involved in M&As, infrastructure-type projects, large construction projects, major developments. For example, we do all the work for Mirvac in Queensland, [and] Australia Post work in Queensland.”
The move to Sydney is sufficient for now for the firm of seven partners and about 75 staff. According to Toigo, the aim is to keep the firm’s “Sydney presence relatively tight”.
“We don’t have any plans to go national. That’s really not part of our mantra, at the end of the day,” he said. “We’ve always focussed on quality rather than size.”
What the firm has done is upgraded all of its technology in order to facilitate easy communication between its offices.
“I think it’s fair to say we have one of the, if not the, leading technology, that a law firm might have in its office nowadays.”
Although offers had come in the past, ClarkeKann had until now resisted moving beyond Brisbane.
“We looked at whether we’d merge, or take over another firm,” Toigo said. “We’ve been approached from time to time over the years by major firms looking to merge, but we yet haven’t seen the need nor probably the inclination to merge.”
For Toigo and the other partners in the firm, keeping a sense of independence is a top priority.
“One thing we like about ourselves is that, because we’re relatively tight, the partners really do have a say over their own destiny, [and] we can make decisions pretty quickly.”