AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST immigration firm, Fragomen, this week welcomed two partners and the entire professional staff of Sydney immigration firm KGA lawyers into its rapidly expanding team.
Partners Ron Kessels and Jane Goddard and their team of four have joined Fragomen’s Sydney team in their new, larger offices on Elizabeth Street, which they relocated to just this week.
For the team from KGA, the drawcard of the move was having access to the resources of a much larger firm — Fragomen has about 180 staff nationally.
“There’s a bit of a move in Australia to amalgamate firms, and that’s because it’s possible to provide better services to your clients when you’ve got more administrative support and things like that,” KGA partner Kessels said.
Fragomen, meanwhile, will benefit from the considerable depth of experience the partners and team from KGA bring to the Sydney office, said the firm’s managing partner, Robert Walsh.
“From our point of view, it gives us access to a lot of senior, experienced lawyers in the practice of immigration law, which is obviously of benefit to us,” he said.
While Fragomen and KGA Lawyers both broadly specialise in immigration law, and there is a considerable degree of overlap in terms of the services they offer clients, the two firms have traditionally focused on different markets.
Fragomen specialises primarily in corporate immigration work — providing immigration advice to corporate clients moving staff both inbound and outbound from Australia.
KGA Lawyers, on the other hand, has in the past focused on family and general migration matters. In recent years, however, it has also started to take on a greater portion of corporate migration matters.
“We have started to do more and more business-related migration work, because the market’s just been that way,” Kessels said.
“There’s been a real increase in demand for temporary business visas, so there’s a lot more synergy now between [Fragomen and KGA Lawyers]. However, as a percentage of our total work, we still do more of the generalised migration work.”
KGA have also developed a niche in litigation work, which, according to Walsh, is an area in which Fragomen is now seeking to expand.
“Ron Kessels, in particular, adds a significant amount of litigation experience, which will be very important for our client base going forward, and will allow us to develop that practice quite significantly,” Walsh said.
By combining the strengths of both firms, Walsh believes that Fragomen will be better placed to service the “maturing” immigration advice market.
“Increasingly we see that particularly our corporate clients are looking for immigration advisers and firms that can provide a full range of services, including legally based services around reviews and strategic legal issues, rather than just visa processing and transactional work,” he said.
“That’s the change that’s going on in the marketplace and it reflects this government’s and the previous government’s approach — which is an emphasis on compliance.”