THE MERGER of two southern NSW firms has created the largest law firm in the region, as Wollongong-based RMB Lawyers pushes into the Shoalhaven region and merges in local legal practice Morton & Harris.
The merger comes off the back of an expansion strategy under way by RMB Lawyers, which last week announced that it will merge with the Nowra-based firm, while also appointing a non-lawyer with considerable business experience as chairman of the board.
Twenty nine lawyers alongside a range of licensed conveyances, paralegals and other support staff now make up the firm in what RMB said is now the largest law firm in southern NSW.
Murray Steele, the former CEO of Metal Manufacturers, joins the firm in a move that could see further expansion within the legal practice. “We were looking for a chairman from a non-legal background with strong business skills and experience as well as local knowledge, and Murray fits the bill perfectly,” said Craig Osborne, managing partner of RMB.
From here, Osborne says Steele will assist in the future endeavours of the firm. “Murray has a strong background in high-level commercial operations, in mergers and acquisitions, and in improved productivity,” he said.
According to Ross Dixon and Grant Gleeson from Morton & Harris, the merged firm will meet the increasing need for legal resources in the region, as well as the growing importance of Nowra as a regional centre.
Gleeson said the more prominent legal entity will give residents in the area a vote of confidence: “At a time when regional centres across NSW are struggling to retain professional people and skilled tradesmen, the Shoalhaven is getting a significant boost to its legal services,” he said.
Dixon said that the two firms already had a good relationship under an alliance working arrangement that saw RMB lawyers regularly working out of the Morton & Harris offices. “So this (merger) is the next logical step,” he said.
Both firms also have a long history in the region, with Morton & Harris established in 1938 and RMB in 1885.