HWL Ebsworth has once again raided DLA Piper ahead of the firm's official opening in Canberra tonight (27 October).
Dr Gary Rumble and Professor Dennis Pearce have joined HWL Ebsworth as special counsels, the same position they held at DLA Piper.
The two new Ebsworth recruits are currently heading a review into allegations of sexual and other abuse in the armed forces that was commissioned by Defence Minister Stephen Smith in April.
The third member of that defence review, Melanie McKean, is already a partner at HWL Ebsworth.
McKean joined the firm in August when it began trading in Canberra, leaving DLA Piper with another five partners and special counsel Megan Knight, in a move that decimated the global law firm's office in the nation's capital by reducing its partner numbers by 75 per cent.
The partners that left DLA Piper for Ebsworth had an extensive client list that included not only the Department of Defence, but also the Australian Federal Police, Department of Finance and Deregulation, Housing Industry Association, Medicare Australia, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Australian Taxation Office.
In addition to Rumble and Pearce, Ebsworth has also appointed Alan Rose, the former head of the Attorney-General's Department, as a consultant.
The firm also poached former Mallesons Stephan Jaques partner Robert Gibson, who joined the Sydney office earlier this month.
HWL Ebsworth now has seven partners in Canberra and a total staff of 40.
The firm will have eight partners early in the new year when Angela Summersby comes across from Blake Dawson.
Summersby is a well regarded technology lawyer and has advised on the development and implementation of Australian space legislation.
In speaking with Lawyers Weekly, managing partner Juan Martinez said his firm will look to use lower charge-out rates as it attempts to muscle in on established Canberra firms such as Minter Ellison, Blake Dawson, Clayton Utz and Sparke Helmore.
"I don't know what their tender rates are, but I am pretty confident that we will be setting a new value benchmark, and that we will be setting the pace in that regard," he said.
In addition to Federal Government work, Martinez nominated banking and finance, with the firm sitting on the panels of three of the four big banks, and insurance as providing focal points for the firm in Canberra.
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland will be speaking at tonight's official opening, which Martinez believes acknowledges the presence of a "new player of significance" in the market.
HWL Ebsworth has 641 staff across five national offices.
See Lawyers Weekly 558 on Friday 4 November for an analysis of defence law, including the review into abuse in Defence
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