DESPITE A fall in the price of commodities and concern that the end of the boom is near, Queensland’s McCullough Robertson has made the move into NSW to take advantage of the resource-rich Hunter Valley region.
The largest law firm in Queensland makes their NSW break after deciding to cement their work on a number of big coal mining deals over the last few years and deploying a team to their new office in Newcastle.
McCullough Robertson expects to be able to take advantage of the construction of a third coal terminal in that city, alongside other growth in the coal region.
The news comes this week as a drop in the Australian dollar is still making headlines and concerns are mounting that an end to the commodities and resources boom is near. Damien Clarke, who heads up the McCullough Robertson resource group, said he isn’t concerned.
“I think you have to start from the position that if you’re well disciplined, technically excellent and client focused you’re always going to succeed no matter what the business environment,” he said. “We’ve known, being in resources, that typically the resources cycle is cyclical and we factor that into our planning and thinking.”
Clarke said the firm had enough experience to recognise the cycle of resources work and adjust their capacities accordingly. “We understand that any change in the cycle is probably not going to mean that opportunities disappear — but they will change,” he said. “I think they (clients) might require different legal disciplines, they’re likely to be more dependent on our dispute resolution of the practice, rather than front—end capital raising and IPO work.
“As we see it, we think that there is unlikely to be any impact on our firm in a material sense because of the position we have in the industry and the breadth of the skills that we have to offer the clients,” added Clarke. “I’m not too concerned about what might happen.”
Michael Rochester is rejoining the firm after a stint in-house with Sedgman Limited, to head up the new Newcastle team. According to Clarke, it was finding the right personnel that stood in the way of making the move earlier: “We’ve been thinking about this for a long time, because we do a lot of work in the area and we’ve been asked from time to time whether we would be interested in doing something like this to support our clients. The difficulty we’ve had, like anything, has been finding the appropriate person to head it up,” he said.
Rochester, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to working on growth in the practice. “With the expected growth in the region,” he said, “the Newcastle office will allow McCullough Robertson to expand its services to existing and new clients.”
Although McCullough Robertson has a small serviced office in Sydney, Clarke noted that this would be the first significant charge into NSW. “This is really our first big adventure outside of Queensland,” he said. “This is part of the building of a national brand and profile that we’re working on.”