Legal Business Blogs

Targeting Australia: Withers establishes presence with local tax firm BLW and corporate boutique alliance

Private-client focused firm Withers has launched a presence in Australia, creating Withers SBL through an alliance with tax practice Balazs Lazanas & Welch (BLW) and corporate boutique SBL Shmith, as it continues its strategy of ‘expanding into key markets for high net worth clients’.

Announced today (18 December), the firm has also hired immigration law partner Rita Chowdhury, who previously led the corporate and private client immigration practices at accounting giant Deloitte and at Baker & McKenzie, before forming her own practice earlier this year.

BLW was established in 2009 by three former Baker & McKenzie tax partners and focuses on tax, trusts and estates matters and tax disputes and investigations. Withers’ global immigration practice, meanwhile, was created two years ago with the hire of US partner Reaz Jafi from New York firm Abrams Fensterman.

The alliance between Withers and Sydney-based BLW also includes SBL Shmith, a boutique led by former Ashurst corporate partner Justin Shmith who is located in Melbourne. The alliance is being headed up for Withers by new recruit Chowdhury.

Withers managing director Margaret Robertson said: ‘This alliance represents a huge step forward in the development of Withers’ international footprint. Australia offers a great range of opportunities for Withers, not just as a stand-alone market for successful people, but also as an integral part of the regional Asia-Pacific market.’

‘We have monitored the Australian legal market for growth opportunities for many years and the range of services and skills offered by Rita and the Withers SBL alliance provide an incredibly strong entry proposition into what is a fairly fragmented field for private client firms.’

Robertson added that the firm’s alliance partners will work closely with teams in Hong Kong and Singapore to benefit from the vigorous flow of business between Australia, China and South East Asia more broadly. They will also work with European and US teams to provide advice to their Australian clients as they expand their investments outside Australia.

Other firms to enhance their presence in the Asia Pacific region includes Eversheds which in early December announced it had created a new network called Eversheds Asia Pacific Alliance (EAPA) to cover 20 firms across 41 different jurisdictions, including Australia, Malaysia and Thailand.