17 Jul 2020

Thomson Geer secures four-partner, 21-strong team from Dentons in Brisbane and Melbourne

All four partners in Dentons' Brisbane office move across as Australian independent 'takes advantage' of market instability

Maythee Voran; Shutterstock

Brisbane: New Thomson Geer partners joined Dentons from DibbsBarker in 2018 Maythee Voran; Shutterstock

Australian independent Thomson Geer has hired a 21-strong team including four partners from Dentons depriving the global firm of all of its Brisbane-based partners.

Moving across to the top-10 firm by partner count are Brisbane office head Matthew Rollason, a property specialist; restructuring and insolvency specialist Scott Guthrie, who was a board member of Dentons’ Australia practice; Jeff Baker (banking and finance) and Kirsten Pike (real estate).

Joining them is Joseph Ip, a managing associate in Dentons' real estate team in Melbourne, who is becoming a partner at his new firm.

All five recruits were among a 17-partner team that joined Dentons in March 2018 from mid-tier law firm DibbsBarker, sparking the firm’s dissolution. 

In addition, a team made up of 16 lawyers and support staff are also moving across in a move the firm said would ‘strengthen Thomson Geer's national real estate and banking capability and... provide more defence against any further downturn in the Queensland economy’.

The firm added that it had not had 'to mandate cuts to lawyer hours or pay throughout the Covid-19 crisis’. 

It said: ‘Notwithstanding that the firm expects the next six months to be very difficult for the legal market as government stimulus packages end, the firm is among the first in Australia to take advantage of the instability among the pandemic stricken economic conditions.’

Chief executive partner Adrian Tembel told Financial Review: "We're not the only firm that is taking opportunities. I'd be disappointed if other strong rivals won't be announcing similar moves over the next period between now and Christmas."

Dentons issued a statement in which it said it was focused 'on continuing the usual high levels of service we provide to our clients'.

It added: 'Queensland is an important market for Dentons and a key part of our Australasia strategy while we are continuing to build our presence in that market. Dentons is in a strong financial situation and will continue to govern the firm with prudence during this challenging time.’

Dentons is among a number of firms in Australia to have cut pay in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, having asked staff in April to either take salary cuts of 20 per cent for May and June without any reduction in hours along with some annual leave days each month, or to reduce both their hours and their pay, according to Financial Review.

Meanwhile, the hires boost Thomson Greer’s partner count to 116 partners operating out of offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.