find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Exclusive: Boutique attracts global suitors

Exclusive: Boutique attracts global suitors

While G+T head Danny Gilbert tells Lawyers Weekly his firm was never going to merge with Freshfields, large UK firms have approached Sydney-based boutique Webb Henderson.

While G+T head Danny Gilbert tells Lawyers Weekly his firm was never going to merge with Freshfields, large UK firms have approached Sydney-based boutique Webb Henderson.

Gilbert and Henderson (pictured) both spoke to Lawyers Weekly to provide their take on the impact of the arrival of global law firms in the market and on their practice.

Henderson was a senior partner at Gilbert + Tobin prior to launching Webb Henderson in 2009 with Malcolm Webb, who was formerly a partner with Bell Gully in New Zealand.

The firm now has nine partners and 32 total lawyers spread throughout Sydney, Auckland, Singapore and London.

Henderson said that the firm’s targeted areas which include technology, media and telecommunications, corporate and competition law, dispute resolution and regulatory consulting had attracted interest from global law firms.

“We have had English firms approach us,” he said, confirming those firms included Magic Circle and Silver circle firms.

“We haven’t done those things [merge] because we are content with our strategy.”

Webb Henderson turns over between $10 to $20 million, with revenue for FY13 growing from FY12.

He agreed with sentiments expressed in a recent Lawyers Weekly Opinion piece that specialisation is a key point of difference in what is a crowded domestic legal market.

He attributes this and the firm’s relatively small size and low leverage ratio as being key reasons why it has avoided the redundancies and pay freezes that have beset numerous large global and national firms in Australia.

“All of those firms will have to manage costs in their own ways, but salary freezes are a clunky way to do that,” he said. “There are more important organisational decisions that have to be made about premises or internal structures which drive more costs than salary freezes.”

King & Wood was our best shot at a merger

Like Henderson, Gilbert has had his fair share of discussions with global firms about a possible merger.

Looking back on the alliance the firm had with King & Wood prior to the Chinese firm entering into a merger with Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Gilbert had a bob each way when asked if G+T didn’t merge with King & Wood, then they would not merge with anyone.

“Not really, but I guess it was,” he said.

Gilbert also scotched any notion that his firm was looking to merge with Freshfields and said that he was comfortable with the firm’s current strategy of going it alone.

Like Henderson, Gilbert said that his firm had also seen its revenue increase in FY13 from FY12.

He maintained that despite G+T losing many partners and gaining many partners in the last two years, the impact of global law firms has been overrated.

“I am not worried about global firms,” he said. “I am very happy. More can come as far as I am concerned.”

In discussing recent redundancies and cost-cutting measures at many firms, Gilbert opined this was more a function of market conditions rather than heightened competition.

“Partner movements and declining incomes are a function of a lessening in the availability of work and the rise of in-house counsel,” he said. “The biggest driver for the under-utilisation of capacity at all law firms has been a downturn in the volume of work – and that has a lot to do with post-GFC economic uncertainty, due to a reduction in demand for commodities in China, and uncertainty in the US and trouble in Europe.”

 

For an in-depth analysis of the strategies of global, national and boutique firms in Australia, see Lawyers Weekly magazine 632 on Friday 28 February

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

Exclusive: Boutique attracts global suitors
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Oct 19 2017
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97m, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told an NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
Oct 19 2017
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
Oct 19 2017
Legal podcasts you have to tune in to right now
The rise of the internet has hailed in a new dawn for storytelling. Here’s our top pick of podcast...
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 & ...