Australia’s “other” listed law firm resumes acquisition programme

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By Legal Futures

20 December 2010

Australia: ILH plans national network of mid-sized commercial firms

The Australian legal business consolidator Integrated Legal Holdings, one of the country’s (and world’s) two stock exchange-listed law firms, has resumed its acquisitions programme almost two years after its last merger.

In its first acquisition since March 2009, IHL has bought three-partner Perth commercial firm Wojtowicz Kelly Legal (WK), which has annual fee income of around A$5 million (£3.2 million). WK will merge with the ILH network member firm, Brett Davies Lawyers (BDL), a specialist tax and estate planning practice also based in Perth.

Effective from February 2011, the merged WK and BDL will trade as Civic Legal, with four principals, more than 50 staff and an annual fee income of more than A$7.5 million. BDL’s Internet-based legal documents business, Law Central, will retain its brand.

ILH’s managing director, Graham Fowler, said the company’s directors believe that “WK is a quality business with strong growth prospects and that the merger will provide a platform for further growth.”

ILH launched in 2007 with the aim of building a network of 15-20 medium-sized commercial law firms within five to 10 years, targeting the mid-sized and SME commercial market, and high net-worth individuals, where it sees no leading practice. Outside of the biggest Australian firms, which dominate the large company market, it says medium-sized firms with 30-60 fee-earners struggle to attract and retain good lawyers, and find it hard to provide a broad service to clients and achieve capital growth. It was listed on 17 August 2007 and became the second Australian law firm to go public three months after personal injury firm Slater & Gordon.

In 2010, ILH’s revenue rose 41% to A$24 million, with profits up 44% to A$850,000. Last year Australian Legal Business magazine named it the fastest-growing law firm by fee income in the country.

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