Dentons ramps up Australia presence

Dentons has recruited 17 partners in Australia from domestic firm DibbsBarker, which is winding down its operations after a more than 130-year history.

Both firms announced last week that the team of DibbsBarker partners – who specialise in financial services, real estate and corporate – will start at Dentons on 1 May. Ten of the partners will join Dentons in Sydney, five in Brisbane and two in Melbourne, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, DibbsBarker, a firm that traces its roots back more than 130 years, will cease operations from 30 April. “We are delighted that our partners, along with other team members, are joining a leading global firm with a strong local presence,” said Dibbs’ Sydney-based managing partner Stephen Purcell, who will not join Dentons. Dibbs lists 52 lawyers on its website.

The news follows the combination of fellow mid-market firm Henry Davis York with Norton Rose Fulbright, which went live on 1 December last year. Henry Davis York had about 180 lawyers when the deal was agreed.

At least six more Dibbs partners have decided to pursue different paths other than joining the world’s largest law firm. Sydney-based national leasing practice head Bill Burrough is retiring, while Melbourne restructuring partner Joanne Hardwick will move to mid-sized rival Piper Alderman, with real estate duo Jane Wild and Andrew Flannery joining HWL Ebsworth.

Banking partner Brad Allen, who moved to Dibbs in 2015 from Clayton Utz, has chosen to join the new Gadens office in Sydney. The legacy Sydney office of Australian firm Gadens became part of Dentons in late 2016, alongside offices in Perth and Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby, while the Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide offices remain separate entities. Gadens relaunched a Sydney office in late 2017 with recruits from DLA Piper and legacy Henry Davis York, among other local firms.

Meanwhile, employment partner Fay Calderone will join Hall & Wilcox, which this March hired a 20-lawyer team from Dibbs’ Brisbane office.

In 2016, Dibbs’ Canberra office broke off from the firm and joined Brisbane-based firm McInnes Wilson in the Australian capital.

The latest hires come after Dentons announced a new round of combinations that included firms in Malaysia and Indonesia. If approved by partners later this year, these deals will expand the firm’s global reach to 73 countries.

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