LAWFUEL – The NZ Law Jobs & Law Newswire – There are few companies who have stood the test of time for 150 years in New Zealand, including retaining the same name.
But high profile lawyers Duncan Cotterill can lay claim to that milestone, this week celebrating one and a half centuries in legal practice.
Founded in 1857 by Thomas Duncan, the firm has grown into an influential national and trans-Tasman practice with five offices, 29 partners and 160 staff.
Hugh Lindo, chairman of Duncan Cotterill, said the firm had undergone dynamic growth in the past 15 years, particularly, which was reflected in it now being ranked among New Zealand’s top 10 legal practices.
In 1993 Duncan Cotterill had eight partners and two offices – Christchurch (which acquired Bell Taylor in 1993) and Auckland (established in 1986). Nelson followed in 1994, Wellington in 2000 and Sydney in 2003. The Sydney office recently expanded with the addition of two prominent Australian lawyers – Ken Brotherson and Aaron Dearden, formerly of Blake Dawson Waldron.
He said the firm’s growth reflected the increasingly diverse needs of clients.
“When we opened in Auckland, it was to meet the needs of clients, who were moving north – it’s the same philosophy, which prompted us to establish in Sydney. We’re the only New Zealand law firm to have a fully integrated Sydney office – other lawyers have an affiliation with an Australian firm but we thought it was better for clients if Sydney was part of our network,” Lindo said.
Wellington and Nelson were obvious gaps in the market.
Lindo said Duncan Cotterill had expanded strongly in the commercial/corporate area in recent years, which has prompted a growing emphasis on specialist teams such as Dispute Resolution and Litigation, Resource Management, Employment, Taxation and Intellectual Property.
“While there has been a lot of emphasis on the commercial sector, we are committed to remaining a full service law firm meeting the needs of both individual and business clients. It makes sense to us to be able to provide our clients with all their legal advice and support.”
Lindo said that among highlights during the past decade was the sponsorship of a local Salvation Army initiative for women in need and playing a significant role in the establishment of the Canterbury Charity Hospital.
Duncan Cotterill is one of the only a few businesses in New Zealand that can trace its heritage back 150 years.
Thomas Duncan founded the firm after sailing to New Zealand from Scotland. He had previously practised law in Scotland but began his life in Canterbury, farming with a dairy herd on Banks Peninsula. Apparently the venture was less than rewarding, prompting Thomas Duncan to return to the law. He was later joined in 1879 by Henry Cotterill, who was a partner for 64 years until 1943. His son, Denis, later joined him in partnership.
Hugh Lindo said the stability within Duncan Cotterill had provided a platform for key strategic developments.
“Our history is important to us. The partners of the past laid down the core values that continue to bind us all together. We honour the past but we must always look to the future and anticipate where the business needs to position itself to deliver the best service possible.”
To mark the celebrations, Duncan Cotterill has published a book tracing its 150 years to date.