RUMOURS of a merger between Clifford Chance and law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques have again bubbled up, as the Australian firm maintains that no merger is imminent.
At a Christmas-themed get together for the press and Mallesons partners last night, Mallesons partners David Freidlander and Ken Astridge entertained with a song about the much talked about merger negotiations from last year, leaving journalists with the impression that a merger might go ahead.
To the tune of Pearl Jam's 'Better man', the partners sang "Can't find a better firm", complete with signage displaying a "Mallesons Stephen Chance" logo. The tongue-in-cheek song joked that journalists should stop writing about the merger.
Since last night, however, Mallesons has again confirmed no merger talks are now in place.
The credit crunch was blamed for the cancelled merger talks in December last year. Clifford Chance broke off six months of negotiations which, had it gone ahead, would have made Clifford Chance the largest law firm in Australasia, with more than 1,000 lawyers in the region.
SInce then, legal commentators have hypothesised about a rekindled union, despite Mallesons spokesperson claims no plans were being made.
Paul Quinn, a commentator for Business Spectator, reports today that a merger between a major UK and Australian firm is looking increasingly likely. While he doesn't name Mallesons, Quinn reports that a focus by the UK firms is shifting form a trans-Atlantic merger to a deal in Australia.
"When you're a good looking economy the number of potential suiters increases," Quinn reports.
This week UK publication The Lawyer revealed that Clifford Chance has faced more departures from its ranks than any other firm.
As reported by The New Lawyer yesterday, Clifford Chance has seen the greatest number of departures, and since the beginning of May the firm has lost 62 partners, according to filings made with Companies House and reported by The Lawyer.