ASHURST, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose and Holman Fenwick Willan are just a handful of UK law firms to open offices in Australia in the past year. But now the Americans are coming.
The Australian newspaper reports today that consultant Stephen Moss says four more US law firms are considering opening offices in Perth, spurred on by the resources boom and trade with Asia.
US law firm Squire Sanders recently announced a move to Perth and the appointment of the Minter Ellison teams and partners in Western Australia. But Moss suggests that firm has left the door swinging for other US firms, who are also keen to enter the market.
"Without a doubt, this will continue," he told the newspaper. "I know of four US firms that are seriously looking at this market."
He said the big US law firms would be part of the next wave.
A number of US law firms currently have small offices in Australia. Jones Day, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom have small representation here.
Moss, who's consultancy was engaged by the former Perth partners of Minter Ellison who wanted to step away from the firm and join a new Perth office of Squire Sanders.
He predicts the next wave of US firms will merge with prominent Australian law firms. He likens their movements to that of Ashurst, which looks set to fully merge with Blake Dawson.
"I think the next lot of merger with an international firm will involved one of either Freehills, Allens Arthur Robinson or Clayton Utz," he said.
He said that rather than seeing that American firms are coming to Australia, it is more the case that Australian firms are internationalising.