DWF expands in Australia, hires former Sparke Helmore chair

Asia Pacific arbitration centres to benefit from Brexit... Firms collaborate on AI...

DWF expands in Australia, hires former Sparke Helmore chair

DWF has announced the opening its fourth office in Australia and 8 senior hires as part of its next phase of growth in the country and wider Asia Pacific region.

The firm’s new Newcastle, NSW location builds on its existing presence in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, which all opened in 2017.

DWF has also hired former Sparke Helmore chair Mark Hickey to chair its Asia Pacific region, a new position for the firm. Corporate lawyer Hickey will take a lead role in the development of the Newcastle office.

Other senior hires include corporate partners David Reid and Vi-Ky Lam, based in Newcastle and Sydney, respectively; corporate director Jason Lambeth in Sydney; banking and finance partners Ben Burney, who will lead the Banking and Financial Services Group for Asia Pac, and Adam Fuller in Sydney; and safety and industrials relations lawyer Matt Smith in Brisbane.

Restructuring and insolvency partner Kirsten Farmer has also joined from HWL Ebsworth, based in Sydney.

“Since launching in Australia just last year we have made significant progress in further defining and expanding our offering and, after an initial bedding-in period, we are now focused on our next strategic phase of growth,” said DWF Managing Partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland. “I'm really pleased to welcome these individuals on board and believe they each bring not only a skill-set that adds more breadth and depth to our offering, but also a commitment to challenging convention that aligns with our values and ways of working."

Asia Pacific arbitration centres to benefit from Brexit
London has held its top seat for cross-border disputes and Asia Pacific’s leading centres have switched places.

There is also expectation that Asia Pacific arbitration centres will see a positive impact from UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, with Singapore and Hong Kong set to gain.

A new study from Queen Mary University of London in partnership with White & Case asked more than 900 arbitrators, in-house and external counsel, for their preferences.

London is the top seat among respondents in all regions with Paris second in all regions except Asia Pacific, where it is fourth. Across the world, the five most preferred arbitral institutions continue to be the ICC, LCIA, SIAC, HKIAC and SCC.

Although most (55%) of respondents think London will remain the favourite post-Brexit, 37% think it will suffer with Paris getting the biggest boost (70% think so) along with Singapore or Geneva (22%) and Hong Kong (15%).

“Although this year we have seen a change in preference for Singapore over Hong Kong, both of these Asian seats have affirmed their popularity as arbitration-friendly jurisdictions. As with seats, the top institutions have retained their positions, except that the SIAC has passed the HKIAC and is now in third position,” said Paul Friedland, Partner and Head of International Arbitration at White & Case.

Firms collaborate on AI
Several law firms are working with Tel Aviv-based legal tech venture LitiGate to further develop and test a litigation platform that uses artificial intelligence to automate legal research and argument assessment in relation to High Court applications.

Taylor Wessing, Miscon de Reya, and BakerMcKenzie are working with the tech firm which aims to revolutionize legal services.

Ben Allgrove, Baker McKenzie's Global R&D Partner, says investing in new technology is paramount.

“Technology and AI are transforming the delivery of legal services and our partnership with LitiGate is a great opportunity for us to support them develop cutting edge legal tech solutions, and ultimately shape the future

of law. This collaboration is a core part of our innovation strategy and we look forward to embarking on this journey with LitiGate."


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