Independents Day for global partner

By Leanne Mezrani|06 May 2015
Rowan McDonald

A long-serving M&A partner at K&L Gates told Lawyers Weekly a post-merger shake-out at the global firm had prompted his and other partner defections.

“Global firms are not for everyone,” said Rowan McDonald (pictured), who recently joined HWL Ebsworth’s partnership in Sydney with senior associate David Cinque.

Mr McDonald had been a partner in K&L’s corporate and transactional practice since 2003. His departure coincides with that of fellow M&A partner John Mann, who left K&L this month to become a partner and director at Melbourne boutique Clarendon Lawyers.

According to Mr McDonald, the merger between the US-headquartered global firm and Middletons in 2013, which resulted in a reorganisation and rationalisation of the business, has triggered several partner exits.


For Mr McDonald, his mainly domestic client base no longer had a place within K&L’s global model.

“With my clients being predominantly domestic, it makes more sense for me to be operating from a domestic platform,” he said.

“I can offer significantly reduced hourly rates. That’s obviously a very important consideration for my clients here in Australia and my inbound clients as well.”

He also expects the move to HWL will give him a competitive advantage in the battle to retain and attract clients who are under increasing pressure to cut costs.

Mr McDonald’s clients range from start-ups to blue-chip, ASX-listed companies. His focus is M&A, capital raising and insolvency work, which he describes collectively as “cradle to the grave services”.


Before joining K&L Mr McDonald was a senior lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin and, prior to that, Clayton Utz.

He also worked as an executive officer for the Australian Securities Exchange for six years before starting his legal career.

With the recruitment of Mr McDonald, the firm increases its partnership numbers to 194.

Independents Day for global partner
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