COOPER GRACE WARD is again a part of Brisbane’s legal landscape, after a long association with Hunt & Hunt. The firm’s Brisbane office announced in December that it would split from the group and revert to its former name.
Managing partner and a founder of the firm, Chris Ward, said the move was a question of direction. “Hunt & Hunt retains a stronger brand associated with insurance and we have been looking at a more commercial focus,” he said.
News that Hunt & Hunt had entered into discussions with another strong insurance firm, Abbott Tout, provided the impetus for the decision. The concern was that such an association would further consolidate the public’s image of Hunt & Hunt as a firm purely focused on the insurance area.
“I took over as managing partner last year and spoke to my partners about where they saw the firm going,” Ward said.
“We didn’t take the decision lightly, but we unanimously agreed that the model we would now prefer is that of an independent Brisbane-based firm.”
He said the fact that the firms had never been financially integrated made the process much easier.
When the firm originally went under the Hunt & Hunt banner, Ward said, there was an assumption that unless you were part of the Eastern Seaboard firms you had little chance of survival. Since then, that notion had been disproved by a number of successful Brisbane-based firms.
Ward said the firm would continue to deal with Hunt & Hunt but in the future would look to develop other interstate connections for the benefit of its national clients. “But we are not in a desperate rush to do it. At the moment we are very happy to be on our own.”
Asked about the firm’s relationship with Hunt & Hunt following the split, Ward said “like any relationship which ends, there will be moments, but we wish them well.
“They may well open an office in Brisbane and that’s fine Not being financially integrated made it a lot easier for both of us”.