find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Ex-Corrs partners seek deal focus

Ex-Corrs partners seek deal focus

Corrs Chambers Westgarth is trying to be “everything for everyone”, according to one of three of the firm's partners who defected to Johnson Winter & Slattery last month.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth is trying to be “everything for everyone”, according to one of three of the firm's partners who defected to Johnson Winter & Slattery last month.

M&A partner Jeremy Davis (pictured) said that while Corrs has some good lawyers, its focus on areas like construction, intellectual property and climate change draw away from its transactional practice.

“JWS has much more of a transactional focus, which ties into our cross-border practice,” said Davis, who officially started at the firm on 18 March with fellow M&A partners James Rozsa and Byron Koster.

The trio negotiated a group package and talks are underway to bring across more lawyers and support staff from their team.

In little more than a month, Corrs has lost seven partners.

The head of Corrs’ private equity practice Richard Lewis joined Norton Rose with Steve Johns and Iain Laughland in mid-March, and banking and finance partner Andrew Galvin defected to HWL Ebsworth in early February.

“I think people are looking at their options and their practices and where they’re best placed to be in the future,” said Davis, adding that the recent departures factored into his team’s decision to leave Corrs, but were not the decisive factor.

“Some of the banking guys might have left because a few others in that area have left in the last few months.”

Last year, Corrs lost projects partner Michael Harrison, who left for Minter Ellison in October. The firm also saw the departure of corporate restructuring partner Dominic Emmett, who moved to Gilbert + Tobin in September, and Corrs' banking and finance partners Robert Ritchie and Shawn Wytenburg , who joined Ashurst in May.

Davis denied that there was any feeling of unhappiness within the Corrs partnership, and said the firm’s CEO John Denton had “a pretty strong period of leadership and served the firm well”.

“I think all the managing partners around the different firms have a pretty challenging period in front of them,” he added.

John Denton was unavailable for comment at the time of publication, but has agreed to speak with Lawyers Weekly on this issue next week.

Local versus global

Davis, Rozsa and Koster ruled out going to a global firm because they believe the model has not yet been proven.

“It’s hard to see how it’s going to play out,” said Davis.

“My feeling is that [global] firms have made it a bit more difficult for themselves, certainly from the Australian side; they’ve cut off a number of referrals and they’ve created [client] conflicts.”

Corrs has demonstrated that the independent model can attract partners, poaching workplace relations partner Simon Billing from global firm DLA Piper in December last year, and planning and development partner Michael Leong from Norton Rose in October.

In August 2012, Phillip Kapp, the former head of private equity at Clayton Utz, joined Corrs due to a conflict that arose out of Clutz's launch of a Hong Kong office.

“The global law firm just [doesn’t] work,” he told Lawyers Weekly.

Conflict issues and foreign referrals that have arisen out of global tie-ups have led to an uptick in work for most independent Australian firms with a strong client base.

“I’ve probably just come off having the busiest two-year period that I’ve ever had,” said Davis, who recently worked with US firm Skadden on Natura Cosmeticos’ acquisition of Aesop as well as for one of Skadden’s Brazilian clients in a transaction that lasted nine months.

“When you have your decisions being made in London, you can easily lose out on that conflict battle as opposed to a conflict battle that’s centralised.”

Kosta has worked on transactions including Vodafone Australia’s merger with Hutchison 3G Australia, while Rozsa recently completed Archer Capital’s acquisitions of majority stakes in V8 Supercars and Lend Lease’s Primelife Aged Care business.

The trio join JWS’ M&A team, which includes Damian Reichel, John Keeves, Tim Bowley and Shelley Hemmings, taking the practice to more than 20 partners.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Ex-Corrs partners seek deal focus
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...