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Freehills grows equity partnership

FREEHILLS HAS appointed 14 new partners in five of the firm’s practice areas, saying the unprecedented large number reflects the outstanding success of the firm in the marketplace over the last…

FREEHILLS HAS appointed 14 new partners in five of the firm’s practice areas, saying the unprecedented large number reflects the outstanding success of the firm in the marketplace over the last year.

Freehills CEO Gavin Bell commented that each candidate had “shown considerable dedication to the firm”. The new partners are all equity partners, appointed internally.

Managing partner Peter Butler pointed out that years of nurturing were necessary to develop the skills needed to become a partner, but that they would only be appointed into practice areas which were already strong for the firm and considered to have room for growth in the future. He said that for partners to be promoted within the firm, two things must coincide: “You must have someone outstanding in all the partnership criteria, and you need to have practice areas which are doing well enough in the marketplace to justify the promotion,” he said.

The new appointees are in the areas of corporate, major projects (infrastructure), banking and finance, litigation and employee relations. Effective 1 July this year, they constitute the largest ever partnership appointment at one time for the firm. “It is a sign of the true vibrancy of the firm and the success we are enjoying with our clients,” said Bell.

Last year, Freehills appointed only seven new partners, half of this year’s intake.

The strong economy was seen to be a driver behind the firm’s growth. “The Australian economy is vibrant, and we see that continuing,” said Butler. “Our job is to seek to service that economy.” The firm also wished to showcase its commitment to promoting talent internally. “Looking into the future, it’s important for our business and for our clients that to meet the expectations of the services we have to offer, we need to keep a very strong talent base of partners,” he said.

Freehills will now have 220 partners, up from 210 one year ago. Given the 14 latest appointments and three lateral and internal appointments since last July, this mean seven partners have also departed. But this was not related to the appointments, said Butler. “One partner resigning doesn’t necessarily create a vacancy. To appoint someone new it’s critical that they be absolutely outstanding, and that there is room for growth in their practice area.”

The firm will also appoint five special counsel and 66 senior associates. “Senior associates will obviously increase also,” said Butler. “We don’t intend that the 14 new partners will change our leverage model.”

The new partners include Toby Anderson, Rommel Harding-Farrenberg and Luke Simpson in projects; Malcolm Cooke, Andrew Eastwood and Campbell Thompson in litigation; Ben Davey, Philip Podzebenko, Damien Hazard and Tim McEwen in the firm’s corporate team; Harold Downes and Joanna Glynn in employee relations; and Alan Peckham and Adam Stapledon in banking and finance.

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