Sydney, Australia.


At a time when the Big Four accounting firms have been poaching attorneys from law firms, the Australian firm Gadens has hired corporate partner James Beckley from international auditor Ernst & Young in Sydney.

Beckley, who also previously worked as a lawyer at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was an attorney at Gadens earlier in his career. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, corporate fundraising, debt and equity restructures and foreign investment into Australia.

At EY, he was a director of the global accounting firm’s corporate law team.

Gadens‘ offices in Sydney, Perth and Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby merged with Dentons in 2016; its Brisbane and Adelaide offices have since been in association with the global legal giant, while Melbourne completely broke off. Gadens operates as a federalized model across Australia, where some of its offices are financially separate entities.

Beckley’s move from a global Big Four auditor to a traditional law firm contrasts with recent lateral hires in Australia, where the Big Four have been poaching lawyers from firms as they make a big push into legal services. Earlier this year, PwC hired former Herbert Smith Freehills partner Emma de Carle. Last year, the auditor recruited DLA Piper’s former Asia Pacific head of corporate Bryan Pointon and former Australian managing partner John Weber. KPMG hired King & Wood Mallesons former global managing partner Stuart Fuller as its head of legal also in 2017.

The Big Four accounting firms also have been expanding in Asia. EY hired a four-lawyer team from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson in Singapore to launch a new local law practice and expanded its Hong Kong affiliate firm with four former Troutman Sanders lawyers; PwC recruited a total of four partners with international firm experience, including at Mayer Brown and Jones Day, for its own affiliate Hong Kong firm.