South Australian mid-tier law firm, Cowell Clarke, has named co-founder, Jon Clarke, Managing Partner in a significant executive restructure aiming to lead the practice through its next stage of growth.
Jon’s appointment is effective 30 July. The firm’s other co-founder, Brett Cowell, will continue as Chairman of Partners.
Current CEO, Paul Bilney, who has played an integral role in the firm’s growth for the past 14 years, has agreed to remain with the business for several months to assist with the restructure.
Jon Clarke’s charter is to manage Cowell Clarke through its next growth phase “following the turning of the current economic cycle”.
“Over the past few months, we have noticed increased activity in restructuring and capital-raising, and many businesses have strengthened their balance sheets considerably and are trading profitably,” he says.
“With a reduction in interest rates and confidence due to rebound, we anticipate an upswing in the provision of legal services, particularly in the areas of property, development and corporate activity.
“Cowell Clarke has also seen a significant increase of revenue from interstate and overseas work over the past few years, and we expect this to grow considerably in the future, particularly in the commercial areas associated with Energy, Resources, Defence, Technology and Agribusiness.
“We have initiated this management change now so we are in the best possible position to take full advantage of these opportunities when they arise.”
Jon expects the legal profession will undergo “significant change” during the next three to five years due to “further dramatic changes in technology and globalization”.
He believes Australian legal firms will attract business from overseas, particularly throughout Asia, the USA and recovering economies throughout Europe.
“Cowell Clarke is already experiencing these changes with increased enquiries through its worldwide ALFA International network, which has 145 independent but highly co-operative member firms with more than 9000 lawyers globally,” Jon says.
“The size of our firm enables us to deliver excellent commercial law services to our clients nimbly and flexibly, and through our ALFA International colleagues, virtually anywhere our clients have business.
“As an example, we are presently working with seven member firms from around the world to deliver outcomes seamlessly for one of our clients – this trend will continue to grow in the future.”
Jon says “dramatic changes” are also occurring in commercial litigation as more commercially savvy clients sought better ways to manage disputes to avoid the time and cost associated with litigation.
He says clients want to deal with disputes at an early stage, in a commercially effective way without resorting to the courts.
Jon will balance his Managing Partner duties with his ongoing client work in the areas of commercial negotiation, financial restructuring, mediation and dispute resolution.
17 July 2012