Australian and New Zealand lawyers face up to accountants

Author: | Published: 1 May 2005

During the 1980s boom in the services industry, law firms in Australia, and their less raucous counterparts in New Zealand, were behaving more like the merchant bankers of the pre-recession days than the paragons of virtue and authority they hold themselves out to be.

Firms were growing fat, hiring more staff, blatantly poaching clients, eating up their mid-size competitors through recruitment and mergers and renting bigger and more opulent premises, all to accommodate the crush of mergers, acquisitions, financial transactions and so on that had reached giddy heights by the beginning of the 1990s. While the global recession quickly brought the party to a halt in most of the service industry, law firms were the last hit. Insolvencies and work-outs gave them work as the economy slowed down. "The legal boom continued into late 1992, which was one of the best years for lawyers," says a Sydney-based lawyer at Freehill Hollingdale & Page....