With existing offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, a merger with Flower and Hart will extend Middletons’ national reach, helping the firm to maintain its competitiveness with the larger national firms in Australia.
Closely monitoring the developments within the Asian region, Middletons managing partner Nick Nichola said the firm’s Queensland expansion forms part of the firm’s overall strategy to keep pace with globalisation.
“Like all firms, we’re keeping a very, very close eye on globalisation. For us, the next logical step is to have a good look at our strategy with respect to the immediate region – the Asian region and greater China,” Nichola told Lawyers Weekly.
“In recent times I’ve heard Australia described as the southern-most tip of Asia, so if you accept that as a reasonably accurate description of where we are economically, in a global sense, then it would make a lot of sense to have some strategy that responds to the demands in the Asian economies. We are looking very closely at all of that because I’ve certainly been surprised at the pace of change in the global community.”
While not ruling out a merger with an overseas or Asia-based firm in the future, Nichola said the firm’s intention is to establish itself in the major Australian markets, highlighting client demand as the driving force behind many of the recent link-ups between Australian and international firms.
“It’s driven by client demand and clients expecting seamless, consistent service. Not just in Australia but around the world for some of the global players,” he said. “For us, it was very, very important that we were in the key markets, which we assess as being where we are at the moment … To be in Brisbane and Perth was very much on our agenda.”
Following the firm's merger with Western Australian firm Salter Power in 2008, Middletons now has offices in Brisbane and Perth – both increasingly attractive to national and global law firms on the back of the resources boom.
"Queensland is an exciting place to do business as it continues to enjoy a mining and resources boom, coupled with considerable construction activity as the state responds to demand from China and India," said Nichola.
Similar to the firm’s Perth office, the new Brisbane office will focus primarily on energy and resources and projects and infrastructure.
“There are plans to grow [the Brisbane office] in time, but it’s not our plan to have Brisbane or Perth being the sort of size of Melbourne or Sydney. [The Perth and Brisbane] offices will stay very much focused in the mining, energy and resources and infrastructure space,” he said.
On 1 March, staff at Flower and Hart will be absorbed into the Middletons brand, creating a six-partner office with a headcount of approximately 45.
Established in 1872 by Graham Lloyd Hart, Flower and Hart provides services in a wide variety of practice areas, including aviation and commercial property.