1 April 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone


BAKER and McKenzie acts for more than three quarters of the Fortune 500 companies and turns over more than $3.2 billion a year, yet it sees its move into the Brisbane market as integral to its global strategy.

The US-based law firm opened the doors to a new office in Brisbane at the end of last year, and since then has been working to establish itself as a force in the city's legal sector.

Although Brisbane joins new offices in Johannesburg, Istanbul and Lima over the past couple of years, national managing partner Chris Freeland (pictured) says Brisbane is a priority for Baker and McKenzie in both the Australian market and globally. 

"We are investing to grow the Brisbane office.  Energy and resources is a particular focus of the office and we are using that as a global hub for Baker and McKenzie," says Freeland.

"We are there in Brisbane for the long haul. Brisbane is a really important priority for us in the Australian market and globally and we want to unashamedly be seen as a force in the legal market in Brisbane."

Freeland adds that the resources work it secures in Brisbane will be used right across the firm globally to support its EMI practices - energy, mining and infrastructure.

The firm will be looking to service Australian corporates, both domestically and as they move offshore, as well as working with offshore companies.

Boasting 77 offices in 47 countries, Freeland says Baker and McKenzie has a deliberate strategy to invest in resource-rich areas.

"We are in many places in the world but we want to work to ensure we are in resource-rich areas, and Brisbane was part of that," says Freeland.

He says the move to Brisbane also came on the back of demand from existing clients in the area, leading the firm to boost its portfolio, particularly in the resources and energy sector.

Looking forward, Freeland says the firm's vision to develop the Brisbane office to a point where it has sufficient critical mass to support some of the biggest deals in the Queensland market.

"Starting up an office and bringing in a team of people is always a challenge," says Freeland.

"It can be difficult to make sure you are well integrated in the community and the market.  We think we are doing really well so far but it will take some time before we are fully embraced or at least visibly embraced so that is a challenge but also an opportunity.

"We are going to make sure we are really well known in the Brisbane business community."

Baker and McKenzie is also looking at adding a senior resource in the property space which Freeland says is an area of interest to the firm.

With 20 staff located in Brisbane, the group provides assistance for all areas of corporate projects including banking and finance, dispute, intellectual property, tax and technology, and consults to clients including ANZ, Transfield Origin Energy and SEEK.  The business is also servicing government bodies.

Partners in the Brisbane office include Philip Christensen, Aleisa Crepin, Jo Daniels, Darren Fooks, Ken Gray and Ben McLaughlin.

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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