Leading mid-tier law firm Russell Kennedy and respected Sydney-based firm Aitken Lawyers have announced plans to merge early next year, in a move that will create a combined 260-strong practice with offices in Australia’s largest legal markets of Sydney and Melbourne.
The proposed merger, to take effect from 1 March 2019, will bring together two firms with complementary services and capabilities across a range of practice areas including corporate and commercial, litigation and dispute resolution, property and development, estate planning and family law, commonwealth state and local government, aged care and retirement living, workplace relations and employment, insolvency, rural services, and renewable energy.
With origins dating some 120 years, Sydney-based Aitken Lawyers has 33 people including three partners. Russell Kennedy has been operating from its Melbourne headquarters for at least 100 years, growing to a team of more than 230 people including 37 principals.
Russell Kennedy Managing Director, Paul Gleeson, said that Aitken Lawyers was a “natural fit” as the firm sought to strengthen its national presence by establishing a foothold in the Sydney market.
“We’re delighted to be joining forces with Aitken Lawyers”, said Mr Gleeson. “They are an impressive team with a tremendous reputation built on oustanding client service and a genuine commitment to their people”, he said.
“It’s precisely what attracted us to them. From the time we started talking earlier this year, it was obvious that there is a lot of common ground in terms of our respective cultures and how that translates to a shared commitment to doing our best for our clients and people we work with, and for the broader community where our work has an impact”, Mr Gleeson said.
Aitken Lawyers Managing Partner, Andrew Aitken, said the firm’s clients and staff would “welcome the scale and resources that come with being part of a larger firm”.
“We are proud of the standing we’ve built as a firm, and we know that partnering with the team at Russell Kennedy will bring a host of benefits to our clients and our people”. Mr Aitken said.
“As a combined firm, we’ll bring greater depth and capacity to the practice areas where we’re already strong, while adding capability in areas that we know clients will value”, Mr Aitken said.
The firms have appointed a project team to oversee all aspects of the merger process, including the establishment of national practice groups and the integration of systems and processes, with a view to the combined firm being fully operational by 1 March, 2019.
On completion of the merger and in the longer term, the firm will be named Russell Kennedy. An interim operating name for the Sydney office through the transition phase, incorporating the name of each firm, will be determined in due course.