The past financial year has proven to be an exciting one with continued changes in the legal landscape that truly highlight the dynamic nature of this industry. The rate at which international firms have entered the Australian market has slowed in comparison to previous years. This is likely the result of an unfavourable exchange rate and a particularly competitive mature local market. Nonetheless, the most notable event has been the entrance of Dentons, which has taken over Gadens’ Sydney and Perth offices.
At the other end of the spectrum, growth in the boutique space has continued. The focus upon one or few practice areas absent the constraints of a large firm model has allowed boutiques to become an attractive alternative for top and mid-tier lawyers. The market has also seen growth in the NewLaw space, which reflects the industry’s increasing focus upon innovation. In particular, existing firms are diversifying their services and aiming to provide value to their clients in areas beyond legal practice. Key examples include Sparke Helmore’s launch of its innovation hub, Bright Sparke, in November 2016 and Herbert Smith Freehills’ expansion of its Alternative Legal Services (ALT) business.
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