From 0-100 staff in two years: Firm opens fourth office

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Global law firm Clyde & Co has bolstered its Australian presence with the opening of a Brisbane office yesterday and the lateral hire of three partners from national firm Sparke Helmore.

The team comprising Matthew Pokarier, Jacinta Long and Maxine Tills will focus on all classes of insurance (particularly professional, directors and officers, product and general liability) as well as commercial litigation – with significant experience across the insurance, accounting, financial services, engineering, construction and corporate sectors.

Clyde & Co has also announced it’s looking to hire a further 20 lawyers in Brisbane this year, which will boost the firm’s staff in Australia to over 100.

Australian managing partner John Edmond told Australasian Lawyer that the move for the firm, which has three other offices in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, is very significant.

“As far as I’m concerned it completes the strategy, which is four offices here in Australia,” he says. “It’s very important for our existing client base in Queensland.”

Edmond says the firm has been actively looking to move into Brisbane for most of this year, but needed to find lawyers that would be the right fit and have the right insurance practice for the Clyde & Co culture.

“We would like to have done it sooner but we take the time [in selecting] the people. The three new partners have a good spectrum in their practices…they’ve got an excellent reputation in the market for great quality legal advice.”

And the firm won’t stop there – it’s looking around the Brisbane market to laterally hire a significant 20 more lawyers by the end of this year.

Edmond says the firm’s strategy when it comes to growth is what makes it unique: It always begins with the right team - one it knows already has the skills it requires - and builds up from there.

“That kind of growth, while quick, is sustainable. We don’t buy firms and work on exiting the parts of the firm that don’t suit us…that means we’ve got a constantly happy group. We don’t have people looking over their shoulders thinking, ‘am I going to be axed?’ That targeted growth is unusual.”

The opening of the Brisbane office has been a long time coming and will allow the firm to better serve its fast-growing base of Queensland clients, says Edmond.  In particular, he thinks the move will be of interest to Clyde & Co’s infrastructure, energy, natural resources and insurance sector clients.

New partner Pokarier is set to lead the Brisbane practice. He says the team of three decided to jump ship because they were attracted to the firm’s global, sector-focused strategy.

“There is a growing interest in the Queensland market for international legal services. With Clyde & Co, we will be able to deliver locally-focused and nuanced advice and representation but with the capabilities and resources of a global firm,” he says.

“We anticipate that our clients will continue to receive excellent service with the enhanced benefit of our drawing from a fully integrated, national and international firm which has both litigation and insurance at its core."

Clyde & Co launched in Australia in October 2012 with offices in Sydney and Perth thanks to the acquisition of a specialist insurance team from Australian firm Allens.

In September 2013, the firm opened a Melbourne office, and added infrastructure, transportation and international trade expertise with the hire of Beth Cubitt from King & Wood Mallesons, Glen Warwick from Norton Rose and Maurice Thompson from HWL Ebsworth.

The firm also relocated David McElveney, head of Clyde & Co's construction practice in Abu Dhabi, to head Clyde & Co's construction practice in Australia.

Edmond says there are no current plans to open further Australian offices, although: “Never say never”.

For now, the focus is on growing the brand new Brisbane office by an impressive 20 people over the next two months.

“They will be exclusively laterally hired. We’re actively looking for a good team of local Queensland lawyers to build around our new partners.”

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