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Sparke Helmore puts off listing after insurance lawyers defect

Law firm Sparke Helmore has shelved plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange following the departure of key insurance partners to rival Hall & Wilcox, but National Managing Partner Jesse Webb insists it is business as usual.

“I think you’ll find that even with these departures… our national insurance practice remains one of the largest in the country,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

The departing lawyers are national insurance practice head Rhett Slocombe, partners Grant Galvin, Simon Morgan, Daniel Stoddart and Nicholas Studdert, and senior associate Joanna Turnbull.

Sparke Helmore is left with 24 partners in its insurance practice, plus 145 dedicated lawyers and 24 paralegals. Melbourne-based insurance partner James Johnson has been appointed Acting Group Leader of the national insurance practice.

“Sparke Helmore remains completely committed to working with insurers in high-volume areas,” Mr Webb told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “It’s core to our firm’s business strategy. We are confident we have the critical mass of people and expertise to maintain service levels for our clients.”

The decision against listing is believed to have been on the cards before the defections.

A statement from the firm confirms “a decision has been made not to proceed [with listing] at this time”.

It does not attribute the change of heart to the partners’ departure. “There were many factors involved in reaching this decision.”

The former Sparke Helmore team will form the nucleus of Hall & Wilcox’s new insurance practice based in Sydney and Newcastle.

The practice includes statutory and general insurance service lines such as workers’ compensation, compulsory third party and general insurance.

It will complement existing statutory and general insurance practices.

Hall & Wilcox Managing Partner Tony Macvean says the firm wants to make further acquisitions.

“[We are] on the lookout for practices and partners to help build our national footprint where there is a strong strategic and cultural alignment and we believe clients and the firm’s people will benefit.”

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