Partner market update Australia

Author Alexandra Starke
August 8, 2023

It’s been another very active back half of the financial year for partner movements in the Australian market.

There were some interesting insights from the recent AFR Law Partnership Survey. Some of the key points:

  • Partner growth likely to be a bit slower for some firms over the next 12 months with broader concern about higher costs and potential economic slowdown. Overall law firm optimism remained steady which still indicated a positive outlook
  • Although lateral partner hires were down on last year it was still very active
  • The appointment of female partners has been steadily rising with nearly 49% of new partners appointed female

We reported earlier this year that Property and Real Estate, Banking and Finance, and Insurance, had been the most active at the halfway mark for the financial year. At the end of FY2023, the Insurance sector had by far the most activity with shuffling of seats. 

As pointed out by my colleague Sean Murphy – Associate Director Law Firms Taylor Root Australia, in a recent Lawyers Weekly article:

There are a mix of reasons for growth and movement. Everything from realignment of insurance panels, some firms getting on, some dropping off through to cultural reasons with some firms where mergers didn’t work out as anticipated.

Lawyers Weekly

The next most active areas were Mergers and Acquisitions, Litigation and Dispute Resolution. Property and Real Estate was only just out of the medals for the second half but still very active.

In terms of firm activity, Ashurst was the standout for new lateral hires over the last 6 months which were well reported in the market as part of their growth strategy. Other firms on the most active list over the same period were Mills Oakley, Keypoint Law, K+L Gates, Wotton + Kearney and McCabes.

Our view is that partner activity will continue to be steady across the mid-tier firms, with disappointing financial performance and remuneration models being the catalyst for movement. The Australian ‘top-tier’ activity will continue as firms seek out desired senior talent as part of strategic growth plans. These moves are not just about tacking on extra revenue. There are also a few international firms building out capability in the Australian market, with M&A, TMT and energy transition expertise on the shopping list.

If you are interested in any of our insights and would like to hear more about opportunities at Partner level in the Australian market, please reach out to connect with Alexandra Starke – Associate Director – Law Firms Partner Search Specialist.

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