This will be DWF's fourth Australian office after opening in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in 2017 and brings the business's regional headcount to circa 75. The development marks the next phase of growth for DWF Australia and the business's wider Asia Pacific presence, which also includes a Singapore office, launched in 2017 with a four-lawyer team from Eversheds Sutherland.
Corporate lawyer Mark Hickey, former Chairman of Australian national firm Sparke Helmore, joins as Chairman of DWF Asia Pac, a new position for DWF, and will take a lead role in the development of the Newcastle office. He brings particular experience in advising restructurings and mergers and has a strong focus on the real estate sector, advising both domestic and international clients on property developments, joint ventures and port infrastructure.
DWF has also appointed corporate partners David Reid and Vi-Ky Lam, based in Newcastle and Sydney, respectively; corporate director Jason Lambeth in Sydney; banking and finance partners Ben Burney, who will lead the Banking and Financial Services Group for Asia Pac, and Adam Fuller in Sydney; and safety and industrials relations lawyer Matt Smith in Brisbane.
Also joining the business is restructuring and insolvency partner Kirsten Farmer from HWL Ebsworth, based in Sydney.
Together, the new hires bring wide-ranging and multi-jurisdictional expertise in corporate, regulatory and litigation service lines that will allow DWF to establish a larger commercial practice in the region and enhance capability in its primary sectors, particularly real estate, insurance and financial services.
DWF Managing Partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland said: "Australia is an important market and a key growth area for us and while it is no doubt a competitive landscape, there is a real opportunity to do things differently and deliver more value for clients. Since launching in Australia just last year we have made significant progress in further defining and expanding our offering and, after an initial bedding-in period, we are now focused on our next strategic phase of growth. I'm really pleased to welcome these individuals on board and believe they each bring not only a skill-set that adds more breadth and depth to our offering, but also a commitment to challenging convention that aligns with our values and ways of working."
Jamie McPherson, Managing Partner of DWF Australia: "DWF continues to be a disruptor in both the Australian and wider international legal market. As a very progressive and forward-thinking business, and with an established, wider international platform, high-profile client base and innovative approach to technology and service delivery, the appointment of these talented partners is the first of a number of significant steps to alter the Australian legal landscape. Together with our current partners, these new appointments will offer an exciting opportunity to do something very different in the market. I welcome them onboard.”
The new appointments and the opening in Newcastle will also allow DWF to continue embedding its international Connected Services business – the division of DWF which encompasses a range of solutions including technology and research and development, which are complementary to the business's core legal services – which already has a strong presence in Australia with its Sydney-based DWF Claims team.