CC sizes up options for Australia launch

Clifford Chance (CC) has been looking again at entering the Australian market, two years after informal merger talks with Mallesons Stephen Jaques ended in 2008.

The magic circle law firm has been considering options in the region and has held discussions with a number of firms on the ground in recent months.

Perth outfit Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe and Sydney firm Chang Pistilli & Simmons are among those CC is understood to have talked to within the last two months; however, discussions with both firms are now thought to have been concluded.

Seven-partner Cochrane Lishman Carson Luscombe was set up by two partners from Mallesons, Ian Cochrane and Michael Lishman, in 2006.

Seven-partner Chang Pistilli & Simmons was set up the same year by a group of partners from Sydney outfit Atanaskovic Hartnell, including dispute resolution partner Diana Chang and M&A partners Mark Pistilli and Danny Simmons.

News of the talks comes after informal merger discussions between CC and Mallesons ended in 2008 as a result of the market downturn. The firms had previously talked in 1999.

Name partner Ben Luscombe said: “This firm has been approached by inter-state and overseas firms interested in establishing a presence in Perth, but it is not our policy to comment on those approaches.”

CC refused to comment on its intentions but a partner conceded the firm was looking to launch via a team hire.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Norton Rose have both launched offices in Australia within the last year. Norton Rose tied up with Deacons, while A&O hired a group of partners from Clayton Utz and Freehills.