LITTLE FIRM MAKING BIG WAVES, 170 YEARS ON
Written on the 14 June 2016 by Paris Faint
IT'S been 170 years since Robert Little landed on the shores of Moreton Bay and established a legal practice from his humble cottage on the corner of George and Adelaide Streets.
Little by name, but not by legacy, the fruits of his labour live on today as the Brisbane chapter of Allens, an international legal force behind some of Australia's largest and most iconic matters.
During its early years Allens Brisbane cultivated solid ground within the mining and agriculture industries, and as the firm matured so did the nature of its transactions.
Partner Erin Feros (leading picture), who began a career with Allens more than 30 years ago, recalls her own hand in a number of the leading cases in the state's modern history.
"When I first started, I worked on what was an incredible job at the time when BHP first bought all of their coal assets in the Bowen Basin," says Feros.
"The other big milestone was in 96, working on the privatisation of Suncorp and the merger with Metway Bank.
"It was a $19 billion deal and, back then, the largest deal in Queensland corporate history."
Feros also was a part of the team that forged the legal framework to establish Bond University, a triumph for innovation at the time for Australia's first private university.
Allens has maintained a number of heritage clients over the years, including the Bank of NSW - now Westpac - which has remained on the books since day one.
Feros believes the key to Allens' success has always been its openness to change and adaptation within the market.
She particularly notes the firm's response to an emerging trend of international legal outsourcing, where it created an in-house project management team responsible for streamlining processes and technology.
"The legal market continues to change - ever since we started off in the Moreton Bay colonies, extended to Queensland, went Australia wide and finally formed a global alliance with Linklaters in 2012.
"In recent times we've seen a number of clients look to outsource for some of the more basic functions they would normally come to lawyers for, but rather than being afraid of that we have kept to our pioneering spirit and grasped an opportunity with both hands.
"I think that dealing with complexity and having the courage and the pioneering spirit to do something for the first time is key."
Following 30 years in practice at the Riverside Centre, Allens now moves into its new headquarters at 480 Queen Street.
Feros is excited to be a part of the firm's new era, one which she says will be driven by a fresh generation of leadership.
"We have a wonderful and talented new generation of partners that I feel very proud about," she says.
"I'm looking forward to us growing into a new phase, continuing to be pioneers and leaders in the market."
Feros expects Allens will see large-scale activity in the mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure, property and financial services sectors within the coming months.
Photos taken by Greg Henderson
Author: Paris Faint