One of NZ’s largest vies for Auckland’s Crown Warrant

by Sophie Schroder20 Oct 2014
Unique Kiwi law firm Meredith Connell has confirmed it will again seek Auckland’s Crown Warrant and possibly that of Manukau after Attorney-General Hon. Christopher Finlayson QC announced there will be two Crown Solicitors for the Auckland region.

The Auckland warrant is out for tender after warrant holder Simon Moore QC retired and went to the High Court bench earlier this year.

Meredith Connell has held the Auckland Crown Solicitor’s warrant since 1922, and Brian Dickey, the firm’s director of litigation, sees it as New Zealand’s most established PPP.

Although the firm has a commercial practice that is growing at a rate of knots, crown prosecution still represents 30% of its total business, and it’s committed to continuing that.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Attorney-General has decided there will be two Crown Solicitors for the Auckland region, the other being Manukau, Dickey told NZ Lawyer.

“It’s been anticipated for some time…given the growth of the city over the years,” he says.

Although the firm has had the Auckland Crown Warrant for more than 90 years, Dickey says it’s never over-confident during the tender process.

“If we’re confident it’s because we know we have really great people and fantastic talent in the firm… [We have] a commitment to doing it and a track record,” he says.

“We have recently appointed nine new partners with outstanding academic background and unrivalled experience across every aspect of the law, to replace three senior partners who moved on this year. With an average age of 36, the new partners represent the future of our firm and the New Zealand legal profession.”

Meredith Connell now has 30 partners and nearly 200 lawyers and support staff in offices across Auckland and Wellington, making it one of the largest firms in the country.

Although it will definitely be tendering for the Auckland warrant, Dickey says it’s not yet been decided whether it will tender for the Manukau warrant too.

Until now, the two have been combined, and the Manukau section represents about 40% of the warrant work, or about 12% of the firm’s total revenue.

“This year our projected growth is 16%,” says Dickey. “[Not having that warrant] won’t have a massive impact on us, we would still grow.”

The firm would need to better understand how the two warrants would function before making a decision about whether or not to tender for both.

Tendering for the Manukau warrant would mean the firm would need to accelerate its expansion plans and most likely open an office in Manukau City, Dickey says.

A conclusion as to the viability of this will be reached in the “near future”.

“We welcome the [Attorney-General’s] decision and we understand the reasons why. Now we’re getting on with preparing a fantastic bid,” says Dickey.