Truman Hoyle has chosen to pursue a "best friends" alliance rather then look for a merger partner as it pursues its growth strategy.
The Sydney-based competition and technology boutique firm, whose client list includes Vodafone, Microsoft and NBN Co, has formed a "best friends" relationship with Paris-based competition law firm Vogel & Vogel.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, managing partner Shane Barber said his firm's growth strategy was based on establishing close referral links with global and large national firms, rather than looking to seek a global merger partner.
"As some of the new global firms have set up in Australia, many of them are still building up their service offering, and a few of them have referred particular areas of specialist work to us," he said. "Many of the big global players are very happy to send more and more operational work to us, and we are very happy to do it, because we have a cost structure that enables us to do it, to the benefit of all parties."
Truman Hoyle had a referral arrangement with Chang, Pistilli & Simmons before it merged with Clifford Chance earlier this year. With the Magic Circle firm targeting high-end M&A, litigation and banking and finance work, it refers work which has a media, IP or specialist competition component to Truman Hoyle.
Truman Hoyle also receives referral work from Norton Rose and Gilbert + Tobin - one of the firms Barber worked for before becoming the managing partner of Truman Hoyle in 2003.
Barber said that while the arrival of global firms has provided opportunities to mid-sized and boutique firms on the back of referral arrangements, the large national firms should necessarily be seen to be scrambling to link-up with global entrants.
"You have a lot of firms concerned that the music will stop and they will not have a dance partner," he said. "I would suggest to law firms that they are under-estimating their attractiveness and what the Australian market will do. What it does mean is that as Australian firms, we have to ensure our market understands what we are offering, and some firms are challenged in doing that, but I don't think we need to change everything that we are doing."
Barber said that Truman Hoyle decided to enter a "best friends" arrangement rather than join one of the numerous global law firm associations as he believes they are a "money making venture".
"We looked at [joining an association] but decided against it," he said. "You pay a fee, you may not be the exclusive firm in the market, you might be dealing with firms in the market that have no similarities to you, that have no similar client-based characteristics at all, and are just firms that decided to join that type of network."
Truman Hoyle currently has 10 partners and 25 lawyers, with managing Barber looking to add another five partners and 10 lawyers in the short to medium term.
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