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The making of a national firm: Ten firms and how they expanded

The making of a national firm: Ten firms and how they expanded

For a young country, the rich histories of some of Australia's national law firms can surprise. Many large law firms can trace their roots back to the mid-1850s when a couple of entrepreneurial…

For a young country, the rich histories of some of Australia's national law firms can surprise. Many large law firms can trace their roots back to the mid-1850s when a couple of entrepreneurial individuals, with business nous and excellent legal skills opened small, single-firms across the country.

Indeed, many such practices retained their one-city, key-client focus for decades into the 20th century.

Then, around about the 1970s, the merger activity began. Sydney firms became Canberra firms, Perth firms became Melbourne firms and the national law firm network started slowly creeping across the country.

Today, firms continue to branch beyond their historic borders to build their offerings and realise their national capability.

So what does it mean to be national? For the purpose of this study, it means having coast-to-coast coverage and firm presence in Australians key legal jurisdictions including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

While the industry awaits the great global invasion - and wonders just which firms will arrive on our shores next - Lawyers Weekly thought it fitting to remember how 10 of our biggest law firms evolved from the humble practices they once were.

Click on the covers to explore the story of how each of these now national firms expanded across the continent:

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