Australia may be the key to Asia strategy

Author: | Published: 1 Nov 2000

Australia's law firms are among the most profitable in Asia. They are sophisticated, large and close to southern Asian markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia. At first glance it is no surprise then that rumours of international mergers persist.

Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Australia's largest firm, is now rumoured to be talking merger with Linklaters & Alliance and earlier in the year it was linked with Clifford Chance. Linklaters denies such talks, but whatever the truth is, it seems that UK firms are now thinking seriously about expanding into Australia.

So far, though, only a handful of foreign firms have made the move and of those that have, none are from the UK. Sullivan & Cromwell opened there when an Australian partner based in New York got homesick. He now works from Melbourne. Coudert Brothers is there too. So is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. But firms are hardly pouring into the market. With just...