13 Jul 2020

McCullough Robertson partner joins London arbitration chambers as it makes first Australia hire

Russell Thirgood is the latest senior practitioner to join Int-Arb Arbitrators & Mediators since its January launch

Russell Thirgood

Russell Thirgood; first Australian recruit for Int-Arb Arbitrators & Mediators

Russell Thirgood, a twenty-year veteran of leading independent Australian law firm McCullough Robertson Lawyers, has joined specialist chambers Int-Arb Arbitrators & Mediators, part of London’s International Arbitration Centre (IAC).

The former partner, who is based in Brisbane, is the first Australian recruit for the chambers, which launched in January.

A construction specialist, Thirgood is qualified in both New South Wales and Brisbane, having acted as partner in charge of the Sydney office as well as serving as head of international arbitration.

He has acted as counsel before both domestic and international arbitrations and sat as an arbitrator in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East, among other seats.

Int-Arb Arbitrators & Mediators managing director Sam Carter said Thirgood’s arrival strengthened the set’s construction and infrastructure offering, as well as its contractual, energy and natural resource expertise. 

“All our members benefit from a conflict-free platform and support from an experienced team, allowing them to focus on what they do best, and we look forward to supporting Russell’s arbitral practice,” he added.

Thirgood is also the current chair of the Resolution Institute, a leading dispute resolution organisation in Australia and New Zealand, giving him an extensive network, as he builds a career as a ‘conflict-free’ arbitrator.

Owen Lawrence, CEO of the IAC commented: “Russell’s arrival reinforces our rapid growth as a global disputes brand. His arrival enables us to bridge the UK legal market with the Australian one and numerous jurisdictions in between.”

In April the set recruited international arbitrator and mediator Wolf Von Kumberg in Washington DC, where it also now has an office. Other members of the set include David Cairns, John Judge, Janet Walker, Calvin Hamilton and mediator Jane Player, with more hires expected.

There has been considerable interest from lawyers in joining independent sets of arbitrators as client conflicts potentially narrow their opportunities whilst at law firms. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s former head of international arbitration, Lucy Reed, and former Arnold & Porter partner Jean Kalicki joined Arbitration Chambers in January, setting up a New York annex for that set, which is based in London and Hong Kong. 

The IAC has, with other arbitral hearing centres, been at the forefront of supporting virtual, and hybrid, arbitrations while a group of leading law firms has recently teamed up to develop a draft protocol to ensure greater consistency and security in the use of online arbitration platforms.