DWF set for Australia merger as international expansion continues

DWF has agreed an exclusive association with an Australian law firm ahead of a merger that will see it add two offices to its fast-growing international network.

The six-partner, 20-associate firm is part of the Kaden Boriss network, before which it was known as MVM Legal. It was founded eight years ago by partners Jamie McPherson and Damien van Brunschot and now has two offices – in Melbourne and Brisbane.

It focuses on insurance, health and safety and industrial relations, while it also has a commercial practice focused on real estate, construction and hospitality.

DWF will initially work with the firm under an exclusive association, but this agreement will ”shortly lead to merger”, the firm said in a statement.

DWF managing partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland said: “Australia is an influential and integral part of Asia’s growing economic and political influence and therefore core to our strategy. We already have a strong foothold in the region, and the time is right to build on that as part of a wider Asia-Pacific strategy.”

The UK firm already has an office in Sydney, which it gained as part of its acquisition of claims management business Triton out of administration this January. The base handles claims administration work in the commercial liability claims market.

This June, the firm also launched an office in Singapore with the hire of a four-lawyer team, including two partners, all of who formerly worked at Eversheds Sutherland. The quartet left Eversheds following its merger with Singaporean firm Harry Elias earlier this year.

Other international launches for DWF this year have included Berlin, where the firm opened with a team of former DLA Piper lawyers, and Paris, where it merged with four-partner firm Heenan Paris, a spinoff from collapsed Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie.

During 2016-17, the firm saw revenue grow 7.6% to £201.3m while profit per equity partner fell 9.8% to £305,000 from £338,000. Former DLA Piper senior partner and global co-chair Nigel Knowles recently joined as chairman, replacing Alan Benzie, who had held the role for 10 years.