White & Case takes another HSF practice leader in Australia on back of 10-partner defection

White & Case has recruited another senior Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner in Australia with the hire of the firm’s global co-head of construction and infrastructure disputes.

Hamish Macpherson, who had been a partner at the firm since 2005, is the latest to depart after a 10-strong team left to launch Melbourne and Sydney bases for White & Case. Macpherson will join the US firm’s global commercial litigation practice in Sydney.

Macpherson, who co-led HSF’s global construction and infrastructure disputes practice alongside Dubai partner Craig Shepherd, has advised major clients including Australian construction groups Lendlease and Multiplex on disputes arising from real estate and infrastructure developments and was also the lead relationship partner for Leighton Group.

In autumn 2016, White & Case stunned the market by recruiting a 10-partner projects team from HSF to launch offices in Melbourne and Sydney. The remaining partners at HSF, led by then-projects partner David Templeman, made a rare move and sued the departing partners over a non-compete clause in their partnership agreement. (Templeman became a consultant with the firm in January.)

As a result of the lawsuit, the lawyers did not officially become White & Case partners until September 2017 – a year after they resigned from HSF.

White & Case’s Sydney office, the smaller of the two outposts the firm has in the country, initially opened with project finance duo Joel Rennie and Cameron Watson. In October, the US firm recruited international arbitration specialist Max Bonnell from King & Wood Mallesons.

With the departure of Macpherson, Shepherd now leads HSF’s construction disputes practice on his own from Dubai. In Australia, the firm recently promoted Brisbane construction litigation lawyer Claire Smethurst to partner, while in China the firm hired Pinsent Masons partners Hew Kian Heong and Michelle Li last year.