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
Clifford Chance partners launch rival boutique

Clifford Chance partners launch rival boutique

Danny Simmons

Two partners who helped found Clifford Chance in Australia five years ago have struck out on their own, setting up a boutique practice in the same building.

Danny Simmons, who was then the managing partner of Clifford Chance’s Sydney office, left the firm in February along with partner Mark Pistilli.

The pair opened doors to their boutique practice Pistilli Simmons on 1 May, housed just three floors above Clifford Chance’s Sydney address at 1 O’Connell Street.

The boutique space is familiar territory for Mr Simmons and Mr Pistilli, who ran Chang, Pistilli & Simmons before it merged with Clifford Chance in 2011 to establish the global's Sydney office.

Their original business partner, Diana Chang, took over the managing partner role at Clifford Chance Sydney after Mr Simmons left.

Both Mr Simmons and Mr Pistilli suggested their departure from Clifford Chance had been amicable, but that the legal market had changed since they first joined.

Back then, the Australian economy was one of the few in the world on an upswing, meaning global firms were taking an active interest in the Australian market, according to Mr Simmons.

"The legal market was booming too, with a lot of inbound investment coming into this country," he said. 

"We were in the midst of a commodities boom and the banking sector was one of the strongest in the world."

Five years on, however, he believes "almost all of that has disappeared".

"As a result, international law firms are focusing on other jurisdictions.

"There's not the same level of focus on the Australian market. It's very different in one of those organisations when you're no longer a key focus."

The last five years have also seen a number of global players enter the market, so that the offering from international firms is "fairly mature" compared to what it was in 2011, according to Mr Pistilli.

"Now, our view is that the clients are looking for something different," he said.

"We are always looking to predict where the market is going and create some of the trends, rather than being caught up in them."

That point of difference is the boutique model, which Mr Pistilli believes can better cater to the individual needs of clients.

In his experience, some clients have shied away from the global firms due to issues "like higher charge-out rates and questions around whether Australia is strategically significant for [the firm]".

"Clients always want to feel like they are significant for their law firm," he said.

Mr Simmons has found their clients are supportive of the boutique model, with some preferring the low-leverage service offering, cost-effective fee structures and greater access to senior lawyers.

According to Mr Simmons, the model benefits the partners by allowing them to focus strictly on key practice areas, which include corporate M&A, major projects and infrastructure and complex regulatory investigations.

While Pistilli Simmons is looking to grow, Mr Simmons could not put a number on their desired headcount.

However, he did signal that the firm was in talks with partners on both the east and west coast, mirroring the Clifford Chance footprint.

Asked whether Clifford Chance had shifted its focus away from its Australian operations, Ms Chang described Australia as a "leader within the Asia-Pacific region".

She pointed to the strength of Australia’s financial services, technology and innovation sectors, as well as rising trade flows and capital movements.

"Clifford Chance has a strong and growing practice based on premium local talent, and access to global expertise," she said. 

"Our strategy has not changed and we're positive about the local market, and where our firm is heading."

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

Clifford Chance partners launch rival boutique
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
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 & ...