TWO BIG players in the Northern Territory legal industry — Cridlands Lawyers and Morgan Buckley — will join forces early next month to form Cridlands MB.
The combined firm will comprise 70 staff, including 31 lawyers — 13 of them partners — which according to a joint statement from Cridlands and Morgan Buckley, will make it the largest commercial firm in the region. Staff from Morgan Buckley are to relocate to Cridlands Darwin offices in mid August.
According to Cridlands managing partner Richard Giles, the merger will help both firms to boost their presence in the Northern Territory as well as to expand their service capabilities.
“We’re each looking to grow the services we have available to our clients and provide broader and deeper services to our clients, and this is a good way of doing it,” said Giles. Morgan Buckley partner Tony Buckley agreed: “Obviously the economies of scale, as well as the opportunity to dominate the marketplace, were key drivers.”
According to Giles, the firms work across similar practice areas, though Cridlands has a stronger presence in the mining and resources sector.
Buckley also believes that the firms have similar cultures which will complement each other. “We’ve both been fiercely independent legal practices in our own right since inception,” Buckley said. “It’s always been local people — Territorians — on the ground who have stocked the two firms, and this has been a great part of the reason for [the firms’] success.”
Surprisingly — considering that the two firms operate in the same practice areas within the same geographic region — the firms have discovered only a handful of client conflicts. “In our most recent run through of things there was [only] something in the order of half a dozen, which is extraordinary really,” Buckley said.
Both Giles and Buckley said that clients have responded positively to the merger. “I think they see that there will be benefit to them in terms of the depth and breadth of experience that this new firm will offer them, that they didn’t have before, so all the comments have been very positive,” Buckley said.
Staff, too, appear to be cautiously happy with the news. “Until it happens, everyone’s going to be a bit apprehensive, but it’s all been very positive so far,” Giles said.
Buckley added: “I think the idea of playing in a much bigger place in the market has provided [more] career paths and opportunities for all of our staff, so that’s incentivised them a fair bit.
“It’s been a very positive response from the staff and that’s all across the board — from our solicitors, our key managers right through to all of our support staff.”