After many months of on-again, off-again rumours, the partnership of the two firms are currently voting to decide on whether to proceed with a merger. Henry Davis York (HDY) is currently made up of 45 partners, 134 other lawyers and a total headcount of 340 people. HDY has been known as a top tier Sydney firm, in fact a Martin Place firm, due to its name being prominently displayed on a historic Martin Place building. Following a recent strategy of expanding into Brisbane and Canberra and much publicised staff exits, a merger is looking like a certainty. 


Hall & Wilcox, a leading national independent business law firm, will boost its New South Wales presence by merging with highly regarded Newcastle firm, Harris Wheeler Lawyers, from 1 July 2017.

Harris Wheeler Lawyers is a boutique commercial law firm established in 1892. Harris Wheeler is a leading provider of legal services to the business community, the public sector and the people of the Hunter Region.

Harris Wheeler’s Newcastle office consists of 15 lawyers and professional support staff, including managing partner Matthew Smith, partner Katrina Reye and special counsel Albert Ponte. The entire Harris Wheeler Newcastle team is expected to come across as part of the merger.

Harris Wheeler has an impressive portfolio of clients within both the public and private sectors, including Newcastle Airport, Compass Housing Services, the Greater Bank, Newcastle Permanent Building Society, the McCloy Group, Port Stephens Council and Hunter Development Corporation.

Hall & Wilcox has operated a successful Newcastle office since 2015.

Tony Macvean, Managing Partner of Hall & Wilcox, said the merger reflects what the firm perceives as great opportunity in Newcastle and the Hunter Region. “We like what we’re seeing in Newcastle and the Hunter. There is a growing economy with a significant number of projects on the go or planned – particularly in the property, development and infrastructure space. We think that we now can compete with and beat any firm in the region and take advantage of these opportunities.

“Harris Wheeler and Hall & Wilcox are aligned in many respects, particularly values and culture, and a strong focus on providing excellent client experience and high quality legal services.

“We are already collaborating on opportunities with clients.

“The recruitment of Matthew, Katrina, Albert and team adds significant capability to our national property and projects, corporate and commercial, dispute resolution and other related practices, and enhances our commercial offering in Newcastle, the Hunter and NSW generally.”

Matthew Smith, Managing Partner of Harris Wheeler, said “we are really excited to be merging with Hall & Wilcox. They are a law firm known for their progressive thinking and strong commitment to delivering smarter and more efficient legal solutions for their clients. Our merger with Hall & Wilcox can only be good news for our clients, as we will now have access to the added depth and expertise of a truly remarkable national law firm.”

Katrina Reye, Partner at Harris Wheeler, commented “as a property lawyer in Newcastle, I am often working on leading property and infrastructure projects within the Hunter region, as well as other parts of Australia and New Zealand. As a partner of Hall & Wilcox, I will be part of a highly respected national Property and Projects team, which will assist me to deliver first class outcomes for my clients.”

The expanding Newcastle office continues Hall & Wilcox’s impressive growth as a pre-eminent national firm. With established offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Perth, Canberra and Brisbane, and a team of over 500 people, including 70 partners, Hall & Wilcox advises on almost all areas of commercial law, with a focus on providing outstanding business law service.

Copyright 2017 Legal Practice Intelligence