Australian Legal Industry – Partner Movements Update | FY22 Q1-Q3

Author Alexandra Starke
April 16, 2022


Taylor Root is pleased to present our insights into the latest partner moves across Australia, July 2021 to March 2022, via our interactive web-based format, Taylor Root Partner Perspectives.

The below analysis focuses on the movements of partners during the second half of the 2022 financial year.  During this period we saw a total of 64 lateral partner moves across the region, similar to the number we saw for the start of the financial year.  Our report provides some insights into which firms were able to attract lateral partners and the practice areas that were key target areas for firms.

Partner Movements by Month

Partner movements were more active in Q3 with 64 partners starting at firms compared with 44 in Q2, but still largely consistent with the five year average for the same period which sits at 63. 

There are still many factors which drive partner movements, particularly as firms recalibrate as we move out of the lockdown pandemic phase of the last two years.

The key factors remain with the pursuit of better remuneration structures and practice group synergy still high on the list. 

The ongoing battle for junior and mid-level legal talent has also prompted otherwise settled partners to consider options.

Partner Movements in Q1 to Q3 of FY22

In our previous report we highlighted the movements of 109 partners in the first half of FY22.  There were 64 lateral partner moves in Q3 taking it to a total of 173 for the FY22. The diagram below shows which firms these partners have moved from and which firms they went to so far in FY22. Use your mouse to explore the data.

The Sydney market accounted for nearly half the total partner moves with 31 (including one in Newcastle) followed by Perth with 16, Melbourne 12, Brisbane 4 and 1 in the ACT.

The Perth market continued to be very active with Hamilton Locke expanding with an M&A team from HWL Ebsworth.  There were also some big moves with KWM picking up four partners from Ashurst across the Energy & Resources and M&A practice groups.  Ashurst responding with the appointment of three Energy & Resource partners from Norton Rose Fulbright. 

In Sydney, there was plenty of action across the market with most major firms losing and gaining partners.  Corrs Chambers Westgarth continued its recruitment with three banking & finance partners from Allen & Overy. Clyde & Co also launched its cyber risk consulting division with the appointment of a new Head of Cyber Solutions for APAC.

In Melbourne, Ashurst launched a new superannuation offering combining their legal, regulatory and risk expertise.  Otherwise, it was a mix of movements and shuffling of seats across most practice areas in the market.

In Brisbane, Hamilton Locke continued its growth with appointments from Jones Day and McCullough Robertson for their corporate and dispute teams. Johnson Winter & Slattery picked up the former partner in charge of the Brisbane office of Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Finally in the ACT, Holding Redlich added another to its new Canberra office with a partner for the employment and workplace safety practice.

Partnet moves by practice type

Here you can see an interactive map of partners that have moved, along with their corresponding practice areas.  Hover over, click and drag the discs in the diagram below for more information.

Breakdown of lateral Partner moves by Practice Groups in Q1 to Q3 of FY22

Visualising the movements identifies how firms have been hiring partners throughout the financial year.  Again we think the moves should be a good sign as to what practices are expected to continue to grow through FY22 and into FY23.

These movement patterns display what practice areas law firms are seeing as gaps in their service offerings to clients. The trend in movements in Banking & Finance (9), M&A (9) and Energy & Resources (8) continued in Q3.  Insurance and Employment practice group saw a bit of movement in Q3 and slightly less activity in Litigation and Corporate / Commercial practice groups.

Australian firms attracting the most lateral moves in Q1 to Q3 of FY22

The top 5 firms attracting lateral partners for FY22 have been Corrs Chambers Westgarth with 15, Hamilton Locke with 12, Ashurst with 9, Hall & Wilcox with 8 and Mills Oakley with 7.

In Q3 it was Hamilton Locke that finished on top of the tables with 7 new partners joining across Perth, Brisbane and Sydney offices. Ashurst, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and King & Wood Mallesons each picked up 5 new partners mainly in their Energy & Resources and Banking & Finance teams.

Herbert Smith Freehills and Johnson Winter & Slattery were next in line with 4 and 3 new partners respectively for Q3.

Interestingly, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers again did not have any lateral partners join the firm in Q3.

So far for FY22 it has really been a game of musical chairs for partners:

• Corrs gained 15 and lost 6
• Ashurst gained 9 and lost 5
• King & Wood Mallesons gained 5 and lost 5
• Hall & Wilcox gained 8 and did not lose any 
• Mills Oakley gained 7 and lost 6
• MinterEllison gained 3 and lost 12

Australian firms with the most lateral departures through Q1 to Q3 of FY22

HWL Ebsworth was on top of the list for lateral partner departures in Q3 with six partners, taking the total to 8 for FY22.  As mentioned above HWL Ebsworth have not added any new lateral partners to the firm this financial year.

Norton Rose Fulbright and Ashurst both lost four partners mainly in the Energy & Resources seat shuffle.  Allen & Overy, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Mills Oakley were next in line with all losing three partners.

So far for FY22 MinterEllison has lost 12 partners, HWL Ebsworth and Norton Rose Fulbright both losing eight.


With more than 35 years of experience, the Taylor Root Partners team has long been established as a global market leader. Our recruiters have developed trusted and long-standing relationships with the world’s leading law firms, as well as top talent from around the globe. So, whether you are a firm seeking to grow, or a partner looking for your next role, the team at Taylor Root will be able to lead you through the delicate, and often a complex process.

For more details on recent partner movement or to discuss your firm’s lateral hiring program, please contact Alexandra Starke in our partner recruitment practice or Hayden Gordine – Partner and Head of Taylor Root Australia.

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