Allen & Overy hires leader from HSF for new legal services arm in Perth

Advanced Delivery Centre set to open 'in second quarter of 2022'

Derek Chia

Allen & Overy (A&O) has hired Perth-based lawyer Derek Chia from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to lead its low cost legal services centre in Australia. 

Chia joins ahead of the planned launch of the firm’s second Advanced Delivery Centre, which is expected to open in the second quarter of 2022. The firm unveiled its plans to open a centre in Perth back in November, ten years after its first centre launched in Belfast under the stewardship of longtime partner Angela Clist. 

In his new role, Chia will lead a team of legal support professionals, associates and dedicated project management and eDiscovery specialists to provide low-cost tech-enabled support to A&O legal teams around the world, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The hub will focus on providing tech support in areas such as due diligence, document review and eDiscovery as well as regulatory filings and general transaction management, with around 20 legal professionals expected to join the hub in its first year of operation. 

By opening in Perth, the firm said it hoped to strengthen its existing operation Belfast by offering global legal teams more options for integrated legal support. The Belfast office currently comprises 130 legal professionals amid a wider team of 650 employees in total. 

Clist said: “It is fantastic to have someone of Derek’s calibre leading our new centre. He brings with him a wealth of experience and will help to align the work in the new Advanced Delivery Centre with our global network of offices.”

Chia spent six years at HSF, including five years as a legal manager in Perth. Before that, he spent four years as a lawyer at Perth-based firm Chan Galic Barristers & Solicitors.  

He will lead the new centre as it looks to provide 'follow-the-sun, integrated support to A&O colleagues globally' with respect to high-volume and document-intensive work, both of which rose dramatically throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A&O first landed in Australia in 2010 with offices in Sydney and Perth, partner headcounts of which currently stand at 17 and six respectively. 

News of Chia’s appointment comes three months after the firm expanded its flexible resourcing unit Peerpoint to the US, under the stewardship of business development specialist Amie Davidson. 

The firm also unveiled 11 legal tech and fintech companies as the latest batch of participants to join its tech incubator programme, Fuse, last May.


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