NRF, HDY partnerships approve merger

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Australia’s five largest law firms are set for a shakeup as Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York announce their intention to merge.

In a joint statement, the firms said that an “overwhelming majority” of both of their partnerships have voted for the merger, with work now underway to finalise the proposals and begin the integration of the two businesses later this year.

The combined firm, which will operate under the Norton Rose Fulbright banner, will be the second largest global law firm with operations in the country as well as among the five largest law firms in Australia. The firm – which will have particular focus on the financial services, government, and infrastructure segments – will have around 160 partners working out of offices in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

The merger comes after Norton Rose Fulbright completed another merger with Australia’s Deacons in 2010. It now has around 600 lawyers in the country, which will be augmented by Henry Davis York’s 340 lawyers and staff in its legal and business services units. Henry Davis York has 45 partners, 71 special counsel or senior associates, and 63 lawyers.

“There is a sense of real momentum in our global business right now. The combination proposal in Australia with Henry Davis York is occurring as we join forces with premier New-York based firm Chadbourne & Parke and continue to integrate into our business our new colleagues from Vancouver-based firm Bull Housser,” said Peter Martyr, Norton Rose Fulbright global chief executive.

“The addition of Henry Davis York will give us the critical mass we need in Australia to take full advantage of the steps already underway, at a global level, to modernise our business through the implementation of our 2020 business transformation strategy. This combination will allow us to bring the benefits of this transformation to more clients,” he added.

Wayne Spanner, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Australian managing partner, said that the firm has had its eyes on Henry Davis York for quite some time.

“We have admired for some time the way Henry Davis York conducts its business, and we couldn’t be happier that our two firms wish to come together,” he said.

“Our complementary approaches to client service and deep expertise in core industries will create a compelling offering for corporates and governments, not just in Australia but in Asia Pacific and beyond. We were ahead of the pack when we announced our game-changing merger with Norton Rose in 2010. We see that the Australian legal market is ripe for the next phase of consolidation and we are satisfied that this combination will bring us another first-mover advantage that will significantly strengthen our brand and footprint in the market.”

Michael Greene, Henry Davis York managing partner, said that the merger helps one of the established names in Australia’s legal landscape evolve for the future.

“The partners and I have been considering for some time how we could take a proud and respected Australian law firm and re-engineer it for the future,” he explained. “After consulting with our clients, we felt the time was right to look to join forces with an elite global law firm to continue to provide them with an even greater level of service and industry expertise. Following our recent investment in our continued growth, particularly in establishing a Canberra office, we are particularly enthused about what this proposed combination will deliver to our long-standing financial services, government and infrastructure clients.”


Related stories:
Top firms resume merger talks, decision expected within weeks
NRF leads 2017 law firm mergers

 

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