Duncan Hart, former managing partner of the Melbourne office of Dibbs Abbott Stillman (now part of Thomson Playford Cutlers), has joined patent and trademark attorneys firm FB Rice & Co as chair.
The firm has also announced that Dr Brett Lunn will step up as the firm's new managing partner.
Hart, who also runs professional services consultancy Duncan Hart Consulting, has held senior management positions at a number of law firms, most recently as managing partner of the Melbourne office of Dibbs Abbott Stillman up until December last year.
Hart held the position during a turbulent time for the office. In October last year, the Dibbs Sydney office announced it was leaving the federation, effectively resulting in the Sydney, Perth Canberra and Brisbane offices splitting from the Melbourne office. At the time Hart told Lawyers Weekly that Sydney's decision came as a surprise. "I came on board here on 1 July  ... and it was very much my brief to pursue, to grow and to continue to develop the relationships [between the offices] ... so the turnabout in Sydney was, yes, completely unexpected," he said.
However, Hart then began negotiations which saw the Dibbs Melbourne office merging with Thomson Playford Cutlers early this year.
In his new role at FB Rice & Co, Hart told Lawyers Weekly that he will assist the firm's transition to a more corporate management structure.
"I think what you're seeing is a move away from professional services firms being run purely by the partners. When they get to a certain size - and I think FB Rice is well and truly at that size - they're looking to streamline decision-making processes and get some assistance from the outside ... which I think is a perfectly healthy development," he said.
As a former intellectual property practitioner, Hart said he was also drawn to the opportunity to work for a firm specialising within his area of legal expertise.
The firm's new managing partner, Dr Lunn, has headed up the firm's medical technology practice for the past nine years. He takes over from Paul Whenman, who steps down after 10 years in the role. Whenman will return to his previous position as head of the firm's Sydney chemistry practice.
- Zoe Lyon