The much anticipated Deacons/Norton Rose merger will see the emergence of a new global force on the climate change law scene.
Many Australian firms have now established Australian, and in some cases, Asia-Pacific Region-based practices. However, Baker & McKenzie's practice, headed by partner Martijn Wilder, has arguably long been standing alone as the only one with a truly international reach.
The Deacons/Norton Rose merger will now see the Deacons Australia climate change team, headed by partner Elisa de Wit, connect with the team of 25 specialist climate change lawyers who form part of Norton Rose's international climate change practice.
Visiting the Australian office last week, Norton Rose climate change practice head Anthony Hobley said he was "delighted" by the news of the merger, and said he believes the combined practice will be a highly competitive force in the Australian market.
"[Baker & McKenzie] is the only firm we see as major competition, because I think it's quite clear in climate change that you need to have a global presence and global expertise, and we do now - and we're the only other law firm in Australia to have that," he said. "And with climate change ... the legal work and the deals and the transactions that flow from it are so varied, and you do need a full-service firm capability, as we found in London. So I think this is a real opportunity for us."
Hobley explained that from its London base, Norton Rose has now established climate change practice in jurisdictions including Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Warsaw, Milan, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Tokyo, as well as the world's largest practice in Beijing. And in areas where the firm hasn't directly got resources on the ground, he said, he has worked to establish strong relationships with other firms.
One of the biggest areas that had been missing from the firm's network, he said, was Australia, "so it was an absolute delight when I heard about the merger".
"What Deacons brings us is the resources on the ground here - people who understand the local law, the local issues, and similarly, they have the full range of tax, corporate finance, private equity, financial regulatory lawyers, financial services lawyers, etc which that can bring to bear," he said.
"We are now the biggest international law firm in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific, so you can't really be in a better position, resources-wise, than that."
- Zoe Lyon