03 Mar 2021

Ashurst expands consulting business with five-partner Big Four hiring spree in Australia

Quintet includes Deloitte's former global leader of cyber and strategic risk Sid Maharaj

Ashurst has expanded its consulting business with the arrival of five new partners in Australia citing increased client demand for its legal-led consultancy services in areas such as tech and cyber risk since the unit launched in June last year.

The new hires include Deloitte’s former global leader of cyber and strategic risk, Sid Maharaj, who will cover cyber, strategy and reputational risk in Sydney. He will be joined in Sydney by Tony Morris, Elena Lambros and Philip Hope and in Melbourne by Melina Sehr.

Jamie Ng, Ashurst executive team member and global head of Ashurst Consulting, said the new partners brought a wealth of expertise that would help advance the firm’s consulting service.

Ng added: “We are experiencing strong ongoing demand for advice in the key areas of change and risk management for business. Since Covid in particular, our clients have asked us for help in areas well beyond traditional legal services. They want a legal-led approach but one that also taps into other critical capabilities. That is what we have assembled.”

He said "early preparatory work" was already taking place to expand the service across its international network.

The new consultancy arm is split into two practices – risk advisory and board advisory. All five new recruits will serve in its risk advisory practice.

Maharaj arrives after more than two decades at Deloitte, first in South Africa and since 2013 in Australia. He became global strategic and reputation risk leader in 2019 before becoming global head for cyber and strategic risk last year.

Sehr, who will cover transformation and change management, arrives after almost four years at PwC, having previously spent close to two decades at IBM. Morris will cover occupational health safety and wellbeing and is another Deloitte alumni, where he spent just over seven years as a risk advisory partner. 

Lambros also arrives from Deloitte and will cover strategy risk and project management, while Hope will cover financial services deal and operating model risk, joining Ashurst as a partner having consulted for its risk advisory practice since the unit’s launch.

The firm first announced plans to launch its consultancy business last March after tapping up another former Deloitte partner Philip Hardy to run its risk advisory practice. Hardy was previously head of Deloitte’s Australian governance, regulation and conduct advisory business.

Ashurst's move into consultancy comes as the Big Four accountancy giants are also stepping up their efforts to advise legal departments across the globe on digitalisation. Last October, KPMG unveiled a global legal operations consultancy service underpinned by the claim it had saved its in-house legal clients more than $200m over the previous two years.