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Clifford Chance arrives in boutique style

Clifford Chance arrives in boutique style

It wasn't the top-tier tie-up that has, for years, been anticipated. It wasn't even the quick, clandestine poaching of local talent to open independently. No. Clifford Chance has announced its…

It wasn't the top-tier tie-up that has, for years, been anticipated.

It wasn't even the quick, clandestine poaching of local talent to open independently.

No. Clifford Chance has announced its arrival via a new way altogether.

The English firm finally made its Australian debut by merging with two boutique law firms, Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe (CLCL) and Chang Pistilli & Simmons (CPS), giving the Magic Circle firm offices in Perth and Sydney.

These two boutique law firms have suddenly been swung into the international media spotlight, and once again, Australia's resources boom - and in particular the legal opportunities available in Perth - has stirred the appetite of a global law firm.

But Clifford Chance has said it will not seek the domination of the Australian legal market that had previously been expected.

For more than 10 years, it has been rumoured that Clifford Chance would make its Australian arrival with a bang: via a merger with Mallesons Stephen Jacques.

Clearly, the strategy has changed. So too has Clifford Chance's reasons for being in Australia and the presence and clout a boutique law firm can now garner in the market.

The Perth-based CLCL is a seven partner firm with a strong resources background. Its physical presence is small, but its transactional record speaks for itself.

In Sydney, the seven-partner CPS also boasts an exceptional transaction record, having worked with clients like Multiplex, Babcock & Brown, Optus and APA Group.

For CPS, the merger has been more than 12 months in the pipeline, and the offer of an international tie-up did not come in isolation: the firm has received a number of approaches from global law firms.

Such is the pull of a proven boutique law firm with a strong client base.

CLCL managing partner Michael Lishman told Lawyers Weekly overnight that the new opportunity "gives me another reason to get out of bed in the morning".

For the rest of us, the way in which Clifford Chance has finally arrived in Australia gives us plenty of reasons to consider just what impact boutique law firms can have in shaping the legal market.

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Clifford Chance arrives in boutique style
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