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Queensland law firms announce merger
AMP reveals new group general counsel:

Queensland law firms announce merger

A Queensland-based law firm has announced it is on the brink of a merger with a corporate law firm specialising in finance and insurance.

COOPER Grace Ward, a Queensland-based law firm, has announced it is on the brink of a merger with a corporate law firm specialising in finance and insurance.

Cooper Grace Ward and Bain Gasteen Lawyers will join from 1 December this year to become a firm of more than 200 people, up from Cooper Grace Ward’s current 160.

The merged firm will trade as Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers (incorporating Bain Gasteen) from December 2009 to February 2010. After that, the firm will become Cooper Grace Ward again.

The merger “significantly increases our footprint in the Queensland legal marketplace”, said Cooper Grace Ward managing partner Chris Ward.

Both firms have touted their similar cultures, and for Ward the potential growth opportunities were key to the signing of a deal.

Bain Gasteen has about 20 years of experience in the Queensland market, specifically working for some large insurance and financial institutions, Ward said.

The announcement comes just weeks after Cooper Grace War’s expansion into a 4,300 metre square tenancy at 400 George Street Brisbane.

In what now appears to have been clear plans for the current merger, the firm said in August that “unexpected growth” had prompted the firm to secure a ten year lease in what was the first five green-star building in Brisbane’s CBD.

At the time, the firm said about 160 staff would be relocated to the new premises on 12 October, and that the office space has room to house another 50 lawyers for future growth.

In further growth, the firm scooped an Ernst & Young lawyer for its litigation and dispute resolution team in September. Andrew Ward has previously worked in the indirect tax division of E&Y in an advisory role.

Brisbane firms have been hitting the headlines in recent months with new hires, topping their east-coast counterparts in terms of growth.

In recent weeks, McDonald Phillips Lawyers announced that the commercial property practice group from Mills Oakley’s Brisbane office joined its ranks. Solicitor director, Rhonda King, said the firm has seen rapid growth in the past 12 months.

In another Brisbane hiring coup, former Flower & Hart associate Katrina Chambers returned to the firm as senior counsel in mid September, having left the firm four a half years before to work at McCullough Robertson, where she was senior associate. At the time, The New Lawyer reported there had been some competition for highly qualified senior lawyers among Brisbane firms.

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