Kemp Strang explains Melbourne launch rationale

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Kemp Strang managing partner Michael Joseph has detailed the underlying strategy for the firm's Melbourne launch, which was revealed yesterday exclusively by Australasian Lawyer.

Following the hire of three new lawyers to springboard a new banking and finance offering in Melbourne, Joseph says the move is all about servicing clients in the banking sector.

“A big part of our business is banking and finance and insolvency work,” Joseph said.

“That’s the main purpose of the operation, and that’s the backbone of what that office will be there to do, it is to service our banking and finance clients.”

Kemp Strang is a leading player in the banking and finance arena, having been appointed to the panels of all four major banks in different capacities, as well as advising other smaller players in the sector.

To springboard its Melbourne offering, the firm raided Norton Rose Fulbright for one special counsel, and hired two of the firm's former senior lawyers in Melbourne. Norton Rose banking and finance special counsel Andrew Bretherton will join Kemp Strang following the conclusion of his contract, while Norton Rose's former restructuring and insolvency partner, Andrew Bruce, and restructuring and insolvency special counsel Emma-Jane Stevens have also joined the firm.

Joseph said while all options were on the table for staffing the office – including parachuting in some of its existing partners – in the end, the firm decided that lateral hires were the best choice.

“I think it’s always better to get local people; that is always the preferable course,” he said.

Joseph has ruled out expanding beyond its core banking and finance and insolvency offering in Melbourne in the immediate future.

“We will never say never, but we see that [banking and finance] as the focus of the offering.”

Although the firm has implied it will soon look to open in other areas around Australia, Joseph said it is too early to comment in detail.

“I think that whatever you do, it is always going to be client-driven, and what we are trying to do is tailor our offering to meet our client’s needs, and we will continue to do that; wherever there is a perceived need for our clients we will follow that and let that guide us,” he said.

Kemp Strang formerly serviced the Melbourne market via the Kennedy Strang Legal Group, which made a decision to dissolve last year due to member firms wishing to pursue seperate growth strategies. Russell Kennedy was formerly the Melbourne arm of The Kennedy Strang Legal Group.

A Norton Rose Fulbright spokesman said the firm would continue to attract high quality lawyers, and that banking and finance remained a core focus for the firm in Melbourne.

"The banking and finance team, led by Australian head of banking and finance Alison Deitz, remains a core focus for Norton Rose Fulbright and continues to boast some of the best legal talent in the country.”


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