International law firms in Australia

This is a directory of all international law firms in Australia. There have been a lot of US law firms entering Australia recently, though these have followed a number of UK firms who opened offices a few years earlier.

The “international law firm” category is a tricky one. The obvious names are those firms that have landed in Australia in the past year. It gets harder trying to categorise firms after a merger, or when international firms are so entrenched in Australia that they would simply be thought of as a great mid-tier firm. (Actually, same goes for the top tiers, which, other than MinterEllison and Clayton Utz, are all international firms.)

I have compiled this list with the understanding that you, a current law student, will also take a look at the other posts in this series. This will be important if you are looking for clerkships or graduate positions at firms that have international offices where you might be able to undertake a secondment or rotation. There might be some doubling up.

The other posts are here:

International law firms in Australia

The strategy of international firms in Australia

So why would an international firm enter Australia? A few years ago it was to cash in on the resources boom, but there are still a number of reasons why international firms continue to look for opportunities to open their doors on our shores.

First of all, if a client in the home country is undertaking some cross border work (eg M&A) then having an office in Australia is far superior than having to refer that billable work to a “local partner firm”. This is a no brainer.

Secondly, with the Asian economy looking to dominate in the next few decades, a move to Australia is all part of the Asia-Pac strategy – Australia is very close to Asia. Further, there are some serious investment dollars making their way from Asia into our country.

This is great news for graduates and junior lawyers who end up working in one of these firms – the opportunity to travel and work in another office overseas is always there and easier than ever!

US and UK international law firms

  • Allen & Overy: Sydney and Perth. Entered in 2010. UK (Magic Circle) firm.
  • Baker McKenzie: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Entered in 1964. US firm.
  • Bird & Bird: Sydney. Entered in 2014 through a merger with Truman Hoyle. UK firm.
  • Clifford Chance: Perth and Sydney. Entered Australia in 2011 through acquisitions of Chang, Pistilli & Simmons and Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe. UK (Magic Circle) law firm.
  • Clyde & Co: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Entered Australia in 2012. UK law firm.
  • Dentons: Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane (this will probably change soon). Entered in 2016 through merger with a few (but not all) Gadens’ offices. US firm.
  • DLA Piper: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Entered in 2011 through merger with Phillip Fox. US/UK law firm.
  • Hogan Lovells: Perth and Sydney. Entered in 2015. US firm.
  • Holman Fenwick Willan: Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Entered in 2006. UK firm.
  • Jones Day: Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Entered Australia in 1998 (to service international clients, from what I understand), and extended this to an Australian law practice in 2006. US firm.
  • K&L Gates: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Entered in 2013 after merger with Middletons. US firm.
  • Norton Rose Fulbright: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Entered in 2010 after merger with Deacons. US/UK firm.
  • Pinsent Masons: Sydney and Melbourne. Entered in 2015. UK law firm.
  • Squire Patton Boggs: Sydney, Perth and Darwin. Entered Australia in 2011 (as Squire Sanders). US firm.
  • Seyfarth Shaw. Sydney and Melbourne. Entered in 2013. US firm.
  • Sidley & Austin: Sydney. Entered Australia in 2007. US firm.
  • Sullivan & Cromwell: Melbourne and Sydney. Entered in 1983. US firm.
  • White & Case: Melbourne and Sydney. Entered in 2016. US firm.

That’s right – the only international law firms that have made the move to Australia are from the UK and the US.

Goodbye Australia!

Just so you don’t have to go searching around to confirm, the following international law firms have closed up shop in Australia. Vale!

  • Dorsey & Whitney LLP: Sydney. Entered in 2009 and left in 2013. US firm.
  • Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher & Flom: Entered in 1989 (outbound legal work) and left in 2006. US firm.
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