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
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Australian firm calls US home

Australian firm calls US home

AUSTRALIA’S ONLY law firm with offices in the United States is enjoying the fruit of Silicon Valley’s comeback. Minter Ellison opened its San Francisco office six years ago with two staff, and…

AUSTRALIA’S ONLY law firm with offices in the United States is enjoying the fruit of Silicon Valley’s comeback.

Minter Ellison opened its San Francisco office six years ago with two staff, and now employs 12. Growth has ridden on the firm’s cornerstone international employment practice, reflecting the one-time popularity of offshoring, and the fundamental strength of the US multinational companies in the Asia Pacific region. More recently, the firm has enjoyed success in the corporate intellectual property practice area.

“International employment as a practice area has really started to catch the attention of people,” explained managing partner of Minter Ellison San Francisco, Darren Gardner.

“Once, employment law was regarded as at the lower end of the spectrum, but now in international acquisitions, an international employment lawyer is one of the first people called into the room. Nowadays more and more often the assets of a company are tied up in its people,” he said.

Minters’ US operations were initially set up in New York in 2000, but it pulled out of the east coast two years ago after it became evident that its clients were the sort that looked out to the Pacific, rather than across to Europe.

At the time of the initial set-up, two other Australian firms, Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Allens Arthur Robinson, had already closed their New York offices, so the decision for Minters to open up there had not been an obvious, follow-the-leader one. “What we’ve done in the US is focus on the things we’re good at. [The US] is an enormous, diverse economy; a market that’s very broad and deep. If your skill set matches the requirements of the market you can do very well,” said Gardner.

Minters San Francisco has enjoyed year-on-year growth, with revenue and profits on a par with the rest of the firm back in Australia. Each year the firm has budgeted for a 50 per cent growth in revenue, and so far has exceeded the target every year, the firm said. Gardner explained that international employment had been central to its “dramatic success” because “for one thing, one of the real differences for US companies doing business with Australia and Asia is the employment laws. For example, the American ‘at will’ employment is pretty much unique to this country”.

But the firm’s practice has now expanded, with the intellectual property practice — being situated in the middle of Silicon Valley — proving a winner over the past 18 months. Minters’ IP partner Richard Horton is an Australian lawyer who came across from the US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate. “IP is central to all commercial transactions coming out of California. Soon IP will be half the [Minters] office,” predicts Gardner.

The firm and Gardner himself have enjoyed kudos locally in the United States, with Gardner being featured in a Forbes Radio program called Special Tribute to America’s Best Lawyers in October 2005. “It’s funny, but we’re the only Australian firm with an office over here in the US, yet we have attracted much more attention here than we have back at home,” he said.

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

Australian firm calls US home
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
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'...
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...
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 & ...