Expansive US firm White & Case is preparing to launch in Australia after putting together a war chest to take partners from rival firms.
White & Case has plans to first launch the firm in Australia with an office in Melbourne, with Sydney also in the firm’s sights. The firm, which has a strong brand in the project finance and infrastructure arena, will hang its launch on projects, infrastructure and finance work.
Law firms have been unperturbed by the commodities crash in Australia in 2014, which followed a decade-long boom dubbed the ‘super cycle’ for the resource-rich nation driven by rapid economic growth of China.
Hogan Lovells, which opened in Sydney and Perth last year, was the last major firm to launch in the country.
Nonetheless, the slowdown has put an end to a run of UK-Australia law firm mergers, with Herbert Smith tying up with Freehills, Ashurst marrying Blake Dawson and SJ Berwin combining with King & Wood Mallesons in the early 2010s. The exception is Dentons, which has gone on a global merger spree as it seeks to reshape the legal market and is in the process of finalising its combination with Australian firm Gadens.
A spokesperson for White & Case said the firm was ‘not going to comment on speculation’.
Legal Business understands Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is expected to lose a big-billing team to White & Case in the region. However HSF produced a similar statement. It read: ‘We’ve heard the speculation too. I wouldn’t want to comment on market rumours, except to say we don’t believe there’s any truth to them.’