IN KEEPING with the recent trend of law firm amalgamation, Thomson Playford and Sydney-based firm Cutler Hughes & Harris have announced they will merge effective from September 1.
The combined firm — Thomson Playford Cutlers — will comprise nearly 300 staff across Sydney and Adelaide.
According to Cutlers executive partner Lucinda Smith, the firm was seeking to expand its size and the range of services it offered clients.
“We were looking to grow and this gives us a great opportunity to do that,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity to get greater depth in the areas [in which] we already have service offerings, but also to get some new areas that [Thomson Playford] has that we don’t focus on at the moment.”
Smith cited intellectual property, financial services, resources, climate change and hospitality law as some of the new services areas Cutlers would gain.
Likewise, said Thomson Playford’s chair of partners, Loretta Reynolds, Thomson Playford will gain expertise from Cutlers’ front-end construction practice, tax and employment practices.
Another key benefit of the merger for Thomson Playford, Reynolds explained, will be the increased presence of the combined firm in Sydney. “Getting more depth and consolidating in [the Sydney] market allows us to be more competitive with our partner remuneration, which enables us to recruit more strongly and retain our people for longer,” she said.
While Cutlers wasn’t specifically looking to move into the Adelaide market, Smith said that it was a bonus for the firm to gain a foothold there, especially for the firm’s clients who do business in South Australia.
Moving forward, both Smith and Reynolds suggested that a move into Melbourne could be on the cards, though they said that managing the transition to Thomson Playford Cutlers would be the top priority for the near future.
According to Smith, the news of the merger wouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to either staff or clients at Cutlers, and both have responded positively.
“We’ve been very open with our staff and clients for a while now about the fact that we’re looking to expand our partner numbers across our key practice areas, so they knew that this was something that was on our strategic agenda,” she said.
Staff and clients at Thomson Playford, on the other hand, were given the news just last week, but Reynolds said that it’s also been very well received. “So far it’s been very, very positive,” she said.
“Most clients want to understand that the people they deal with are still going to be available, and we don’t have any professional staff leaving so that’s an easy box to tick. The next thing they want to know is about some of the service offerings that we might be able to provide them.”
The new firm logo is currently being designed and will be unveiled on or before September 1, when the merger becomes effective. As yet, it hasn’t been determined whether Thomson Playford’s or Cutlers’ current Sydney office will be used for the combined firm.