A ground-breaking public international law firm is set to shake up the legal sector after launching this month. The firm is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.
The firm, Lexbridge, brings together four former legal advisers to the Australian Government, and will specialise in supporting the international law needs of governments and businesses in the region.
Founding partner Damien van der Toorn said the firm’s approach is one previously unseen by the Australian legal market. He said the firm will be looking to assist governments and business with the new free trade agreements, and finding the trade opportunities that come out of them.
“It’s quite a new area for private practice really, because mostly public international law is done within governments,” he said. “What we are doing is seeking to advise governments on their rights and obligations underneath those treaties, but also to help business navigate the environment that they’re working in.”
Partners Richard Braddock and van der Toorn worked for the Australian Government on the recent free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea. They were also involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership which will cover 40% of the world’s GPD, and is still in the process of being finalised.
“We’ve actually been there, negotiating and developing free trade agreements for a long time, and we know our way around them very well,” said van der Toorn. “This is quite a new service that is being offered, because there is really no one else out there doing it, especially in the region.”
Lexbridge has placed two of the four partners in Geneva, and one each in Sydney and Canberra. Outside of the Asia Pacific region, van der Toorn said that as a hub for international law, placing partners in Geneva will have its advantages for the firm.
“It provides an international focus, and Geneva is a real focus of international law, for example the world trade organisation is in Geneva. It’s a really big hub for international engagement and business as well,” he said.