The arrival of Allen & Overy will shake up the legal game in Western Australia, Perth-based lawyers told Lawyers Weekly this week.
Allen & Overy will open two offices in Australia, with 14 founding partners in Sydney, and three in Perth - exciting news for Western Australia.
Michael Lishman, co-founder of Perth-based commercial firm Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe, has welcomed Allen & Overy to his city, saying it was "a real vote of confidence in Perth".
"This is a 'game-changer' for the legal market," said Lishman. "The Magic Circle firms are a class act and I think they will be successful in getting the very top-end cross-border work [to the region]."
Perth-based resources lawyer Michael Blakiston, of Blakiston & Crabb, also welcomed the news. "It will bring the transactions that ordinarily might have been handled out of Sydney or Melbourne [to] Perth. And that creates opportunity for the counter-party in those transactions to also utilise Perth counsel ..."
According to Lishman, the firm's arrival will also shake up the recruitment market. "Those partners of the large Australian law firms that have practices that align to the strategic objectives of those [Magic Circle] firms will get phone calls."
Referring to the gap between partner profits that Allen & Overy will be able to offer compared with Australian law firms, Lishman said "there comes a time when more money offsets loyalty to your partners".
In response to Allen & Overy having poached 14 lawyers from Clayton Utz, he said there were two ways Australian law firms could react to the risk of further partner departures: "One is to accept that it's going to happen, or second, you can try and reorientate your practice and make it smaller, so your practice, and practice skills, are more similar to the Magic Circle firms."
Lishman said he was excited that one of the world's leading law firms wanted an office in Perth and said it "shows how far Perth has come along its journey to establish itself as an international centre for oil, gas and mining".
"It's very exciting. I think it will offer young lawyers a lot of opportunity. I think if the Magic Circle firms do take Australia seriously, there will be flow-on benefits to our capital markets and there will be flow-on benefits to our universities."
- Briana Everett
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