Article States ..."Australian legal market hits skids"
Doesn't look positive we have to say ......
No sooner had a gaggle of major global law firms piled into Australia to cut a variety of merger and joint venture deals, the jurisdiction is now reported to be contracting as local practices slash lawyer numbers.
Leading players Clayton Utz and Allens, along with the local branch of Anglo-US mega-firm DLA Piper, are reported to be sacking qualified and support staff – with further redundancies expected early next year -- as the market is rumoured to be hitting the skids.
According to London-based newspaper Legal Week, Clayton Utz has confirmed 20 sackings – including between 10 and 15 qualified staff -- in Sydney and Melbourne. The paper says Allens has also confirmed redundancies, but would not provide details.
Likewise, the newspaper report suggests DLA Piper is planning up to 10 lay-offs, while the branch of English firm, Ashurst, is also thought to be gearing up for redundancies.
The downbeat market developments follow a recent flurry of international law firm interest in Australia, highlighted by the merger last summer between London’s Herbert Smith and Freehills. And less than a fortnight ago, US firm K&L Gates announced it was cutting a merger deal with local player Middletons.
The Legal Week report suggests that while the Australian market has until now been resilient in the face of the global economic downturn, the current tea leaves do not look positive. It points specifically to views that mining investment is expected to tumble as growth in China slows from its previous breakneck pace.
Deals on hold
The paper quotes an unnamed economic expert as saying: ‘Two months ago, everything stopped in Australia. At the moment, everybody is putting deals on hold, lawyers are not busy and corporate is dead everywhere ... Most firms finance groups aren’t busy either.’
Still, there was some good news for five Clayton Utz lawyers as they were promoted to the firm’s partnership. Australasian Legal Business reports that Cameron Gascoyne, Tim Jones, Alastair Gregory, David Gerber and Adrienne Parker were all discretely popping the champagne corks.