find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Middletons targets top tiers

Middletons targets top tiers

IN A STARTLING announcement, Middletons Lawyers has said it intends to become a “genuine alternative to the mega-firms”. While hinting it will make a string of acquisitions over the…

IN A STARTLING announcement, Middletons Lawyers has said it intends to become a “genuine alternative to the mega-firms”. While hinting it will make a string of acquisitions over the next few weeks, the firm has already begun boosting its Sydney office, following the recent defections from Acuiti Legal.

Middletons will take on the corporate and commercial and commercial litigation groups from Acuiti, taking its Sydney office from its current 10 partners to 24 partners and a total of 130 staff.

But the Acuiti acquisition is only the beginning, according to Middletons chief executive John Chisholm, and there are still “a couple of areas we want to boost up”.

“We’re in the market place,” Chisholm said, and the firm is hoping to make some more moves in the next couple of weeks. Unwilling to place his cards on the table at this point, Chisholm suggested all would soon be revealed.

The acquisition is consistent with Middletons’ aim of becoming corporate Australia’s pre-eminent “alternative to the mega-firms”, Chisholm said.

The move is the last of a string of defections from Acuiti Legal. The firm’s industrial relations and hospitality and gaming practice moved to Thompson Playford earlier this year. As well, the firm’s 15-strong property team will soon be delivered to Sparke Helmore.

In November, the largest of the three, now separated, segments of Acuiti — accounting for two thirds of the partnership — will officially head to Middletons.

Acuiti Legal partner Peter Limbers highlighted Middletons’ growth strategy as something attracting his practice to the mid-tier firm. In an interview with Lawyers Weekly, Limbers said the group was keen to get into the top of the second tier, rather than on the lower levels of the top tier, because of the obvious benefits for its clients. “Many of those clients want personalised attention, not the mega-firm experience,” he said.

“We like Middletons because they position themselves as an alternative to the mega-firms,” Limbers said. “In smaller firms you can amend the depth and strength and coverage you offer… Clients of ours that also use the mega-firms find the firms’ approach gets forced on you rather than adapting to you. The bigger you are, the harder it is to adapt to your clients.”

A past association with Acuiti Legal helped reassure Middletons’ partners that they were doing the right thing. The two firms’ history goes back to before 2001, when Middletons Moore & Bevins split down the middle, resulting in a Melbourne firm of the same name and the birth of Acuiti Legal. April 2002 saw Acuiti Legal CEO Danny Casey say goodbye to the firm, two years after he had been appointed to that position with Middletons Moore & Bevins.

Middletons’ Chisholm said that in 2001 the two different partnerships within the firm looked at doing a financial merger but this failed, and both agreed to de-federate and split, leaving one to change its name and the other to stay essentially the same.

Since then, as Chisholm explained it, the Sydney practice has been steadily building its presence. Over the last three years, from Acuiti’s perspective, the two have stayed in contact, always maintaining a good relationship.

But Middletons is “very different to what they were three years ago”, Limbers said, and it’s “pretty clear they’ve kicked a lot of goals” and have a new structure they are keen to maintain. Part of this involves maintaining strong growth, Limbers said, which is why they were keen to take on the Acuiti partners and staff.

This intention to grow was also raised by Chisholm, who said the Acuiti acquisition would likely be followed by further acquisitions over the next few weeks but was unwilling to go into more detail. This growth strategy, he said, is one that was set up a couple of years ago and is expected to succeed.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Middletons targets top tiers
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...