Mallesons Stephen Jaques chief executive partner Robert Milliner says he has no regrets about Clifford Chance entering the Australian market without his firm.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Milliner said that he doesn't view Clifford Chance's decision to merge with Chang, Pistilli & Simmons (CPS) and Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe (CLCL) as an opportunity lost.
Prior to the Global Financial Crisis, Mallesons and Clifford Chance had held discussions that raised the prospect of a possible merger.
"Before the GFC there was a view of how the world was unfolding, and particularly the global financial markets," Milliner said. "Post GFC and looking at the regulatory environment and what's happened with the global banking industry, we think some of the issues around the finance industry, which is very much where Clifford Chance is aligned, is different."
"We have a certain view on issues around size in certain markets where they were [Clifford Chance] and we also started to develop different views about the US market."
When asked about the model Clifford Chance adopted to enter the Australian market, with the UK firm's managing partner David Childs telling Lawyers Weekly that it would not be a full service firm and would concentrate on high-end corporate matters, Milliner said: "if you want to achieve a dot on the map, that is one way of dealing with it."
"It depends on which segments of the market you want to deal with," he said. "We believe that sophisticated cross border work requires in-depth capability and expertise across the whole gambit of capability, from M&A banking and finance, through to tax, competition and anti-trust issues.
"We believe that requires a certain critical mass and capability set."
Milliner also doubted if Clifford Chance's entry into Australia would have much affect on the market, at least in the short-term.
"It may over time, but other changes will occur over time as well," he said. "We don't really see Clifford Chance's entry as introducing any new competitors, as the people on the ground here [at CPS and CLCL] are the people on the ground here before.
"It just reaffirms what we thought about the trends, and the way we have taken those trends into account with our own strategic plans."
Milliner added that in an increasingly globalised legal marketplace, more global international firms would look to open offices in Australia, but that domestic firms would also increasingly look at expansion opportunities overseas.
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