Exclusive: Hunt & Hunt Adelaide breaks from national firm
The Adelaide office of Hunt & Hunt has separated from the national firm, with the remaining offices set to become a federation.
As of 1 July, the Adelaide office will no longer be affiliated with Hunt & Hunt and will become known as Jones Harley Toole.
At the same time, all other Hunt & Hunt offices will move to a federated structure, including the currently financially integrated Melbourne and Sydney offices.
The move for independence by the Adelaide branch was motivated by a desire to focus on "servicing the clients' needs, not servicing the branding", former Hunt & Hunt Adelaide office managing partner Brenton James told Lawyers Weekly.
Mr James, now the managing principal at Jones Harley Toole, said the new firm aspired to a one-office model, where lawyers can refer clients with interstate or overseas needs to the best possible lawyer in each jurisdiction.
"It's not brand-driven, it's really service-driven," he said. "That's the direction we thought the market would head."
While the new firm will operate as an incorporated legal practice rather than a partnership, otherwise the effect on firm structure and staffing is "fairly miniscule", he said.
"The main issue for us has been a philosophical change, where we can look at a different philosophy of providing client services," he said.
Hunt & Hunt chairman David Smith described the move as "the right thing for the Adelaide office and the right thing for the firm".
He suggested the decision by the Adelaide partners prompted the firm's Legal Group to undertake a broader restructure of the firm.
"Our firm has long been organised as a hybrid of financially integrated and non-integrated practices," he said.
"From 1 July, we will move forward as a federation of offices which will allow us to achieve the best of both worlds: to service the national or multi-state needs of large business and government clients, and to strengthen each office’s local client base."
This approach was more likely to appeal to clients, who are increasingly "looking for flexible and responsive solutions", according to Mr Smith.
"We are confident that the federated model will enable us to strengthen and deepen our relationships with our clients and our respective markets generally," he said.
At this stage, he confirmed the firm had no plans to establish a new presence within the Adelaide market, with existing South Australian clients serviced by referrals to the former Adelaide partnership, other SA firms or by deploying staff from Sydney or Melbourne.
Overall, he suggested the loss of a permanent Adelaide location would not hamper the firm's national strategy.
"At the end of the day, we will service our clients in the manner which they require, and which delivers the best value for money without compromising outcomes," he said.
Hunt & Hunt came into the Adelaide market 15 years ago, merging with local firm Ward & Partners. Under different banners, the office has serviced clients in Adelaide for almost 50 years.
Mr James praised the Hunt & Hunt partnership for undertaking the transition process efficiently, emphasising that the new firm had "maintained a good relationship with all Hunt & Hunt offices".
The new boutique has been named in honour of senior insurance partner Peter Jones and senior commercial partner Rick Harley, as well as the late John Toole, "our beloved and respected friend and partner who passed away last year".