March 4, 2024
Doyle's Guide

Editorial Commentary – Queensland Property, 2015

There’s a wealth of historical evidence that says when a Brisbane property group gets to or exceeds four Partners then, in the short-term, it’s almost certain to disintegrate due to market size/client cannibalisation etc.  There are signs that this may no longer be the case.

Clayton Utz has had a very successful four partner property team for a number of years now.  Herbert Smith Freehills’ four partner team has survived tough times and indeed continues to go from strength to strength.  Minter Ellison, while technically now only three partners strong, still have David Stevens manning the tools and the firm is ever present in Queensland deals.  And finally Gadens’ six Partner Brisbane property team have now started to move beyond their historically “mid-market” reputation to be on the cusp of our second tier.

It’s potentially a new dynamic for the Queensland legal property market, one where size matters and, indeed shows a committment to property as a practice area that perhaps clients are looking for.

Beyond the above, what is becoming increasingly obvious is that, in order to have a top of market Queensland property practice acting for blue chip and institutional property clients is that a Sydney presence is almost non-negotiable.  That’s not to say that Queensland’s property lawyers aren’t winning work in their own right but that without a Sydney presence their efforts would be likely to fall on deaf ears.  Ironically though there were client side differences when it came to favoured firms with a significant number of firms displaying strong client favour in Queensland but less so in NSW.

Looking forward, the presence of the likes of DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie in the Brisbane property market will be interesting.  DLA’s recent recruitment of Tim Mathers is seen a positive move and Bakers are rumoured to be out hunting for a similar acquisition.  Given the strength of each firm’s Sydney property practice there is strong  potential upside however our prediction is on the is for both firms to struggle to gain traction in the foreseeable future.



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