PARTNERS AND LAWYERS formerly of Coudert Brothers Australia this week took up their new posts at law firms Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Deacons. This marks the final stage of the firm’s closure in Australia.
While a small number of partners are yet to finalise their new positions, partners agreed to cease operations of Coudert Brothers Australia from Friday last week. The three firms are now each taking a share of the 14 Australian Coudert partners, 23 lawyers and 67 staff.
“The partners have been working with other law firms to find the best fit for clients, which has been our focus throughout,” said former Coudert Brothers managing partner Michelle Harpur, who started at Corrs on Monday.
“We are sad at what is the end of the Coudert era in Australia,” Harpur said. The partners have over recent weeks been “ensuring the smooth transition of clients across to those [new] firms”.
While many people had been made offers to move across to new firms, there have been some unavoidable redundancies, Harpur said, though this affected fewer than 50 people.
Clayton Utz announced the appointment of former Coudert partner Mark Williamson this week, who is joined by special counsel Trish Williams and several solicitors.
Deacons chief executive Don Boyd has announced that some key partners from Coudert this week joined the firm. Property partner Lexia Wilson has joined Deacons with extensive experience advising on property transactions.
As well, taxation partners Peter Norman and Max Einfeld this week joined the firm. Norman is a senior tax partner, with 22 years’ tax experience, as well as expertise in the foreign investment area. Einfeld is one of a few practitioners who have qualified as Accredited Specialists in Taxation Law with the New South Wales Law Society.
Planning and environment partner Mark Driscoll also joined Deacons this week. He has more than 20 years’ experience advising public and private sector organisations on all aspects of local government, planning, environmental law, real estate and construction law.
Financial services partner Geoff Sutherland, now also at Deacons, has 25 years’ experience in banking and finance law and has acted in all aspects of corporate and structured financing facilities and securities, syndications, insolvency, partnership law, property financing and joint ventures.
The new partner will be “provided with the level of resources and an established network across Australia and Asia that they will feel comfortable with”, said Boyd.
Coudert Brothers’ former managing partner Harpur is joined at Corrs by property partners Peter Calov and Justin Adam. Their moves quash market suggestions that the property team would move to rival Phillips Fox. The partners were attracted to Corrs because it is “a firm on the move”, they announced.
“We are looking forward to contributing to Corrs’ ongoing success and extending to our clients an improved depth and breadth of expertise that a firm like Corrs will provide,” the partners said.
In New York, as well, Coudert’s demise has been cemented, with Baker & McKenzie announcing last week that it will acquire almost all of Coudert’s flagship office there. The firm will take about 70 partners as well as other legal staff. The additions will more than double Baker & McKenzie’s New York presence to over 135 lawyers and legal staff.
Baker & McKenzie has a long standing commitment to an international legal practice, said chairman of Coudert Brothers in New York, Clyde Rankin. “We are excited at the prospect of leveraging our combined strength in New York and elsewhere on the dynamic business model that Baker & McKenzie has been developing,” he said.