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Freehills logo.jpg
Headquarters MLC Centre
Sydney, New South Wales
No. of offices 5
No. of lawyers 800+ lawyers and 190+ partners[1][2]
No. of employees 1750+[1]
Major practice areas corporate and commercial
Key people Gavin Bell[3][better source needed]ll, CEO/Managing Partner[1][2]
Revenue A$565 million (2011-12)[4]
Date founded 1852 (Melbourne, Victoria)
Company type Partnership

Freehills was a commercial law firm that operated in the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia it was one of the 'Big Six' law firms.[1]

Freehills merged with the UK-headquartered law firm Herbert Smith on 1 October 2012, forming a new firm named Herbert Smith Freehills under a single global equity partnership.[5]


Freehills had offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane in Australia.[1]

Freehills had an office in Singapore.

In Indonesia, Freehills had an association with local firm Soemadipradja & Taher and in Vietnam had an association with Frasers Law Company in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Freehills was a member of the international alliance Ius Laboris but left upon its merger with Herbert Smith.[6]

In 2009, Freehills entered into an alliance with TransAsia Lawyers in China. Freehills’ associated offices were located in Beijing and Shanghai.

Pro bono services[edit]

Freehills had a pro bono program which, under the leadership of the late Keith Steele, saw the establishment of the Shopfront Youth Legal Centre in Kings Cross.

The firm seconded solicitors to a number of community legal centres and services including the Public Interest Law Clearing House in Victoria, the Kingsford Legal Centre.[7][8]


The firm traced its history back to the practices of Clarke & Moule in Melbourne (1853), Stephen Henry Parker in Perth (1868), Bernard Austin Freehill in Sydney (1871) and John Nicholson (Perth) 1896.

The Sydney firm became Freehill Hollingdale & Page in 1947 and began to grow under the direction of partner Brian Page, who took the firm into corporate and commercial practice within Australia and internationally.[9]

In 1978 Freehill Hollingdale & Page became the first major Australian law firm to appoint a female partner.[10]

In 1979 Muir Williams Nicholson & Co, Perth signed an agreement with Freehill Hollingdale & Page, Sydney, to create Australia’s first national law partnership.[11]

In 2000, the state-based offices of Freehill Hollingdale & Page officially changed their name to Freehills and became a single national legal partnership.[12]

In 2012, the firm has over 800 lawyers and over 190 partners.[13]

Freehills announced in 2012 that it would merge with international law firm Herbert Smith on 1 October 2012, forming a new firm named Herbert Smith Freehills with a single global equity partnership.[5]



  1. ^ a b c d e Dun and Bradstreet Company360 (database online), entry: Freehills Services Pty Ltd. Accessed 13 August 2011
  2. ^ a b Source – Chambers Global
  3. ^ Bell, Brenda. "Gavin Bell". Wikipedia.
  4. ^ Source – BRW - Accessed 9 August 2012
  5. ^ a b Bloomberg (2012). Herbert Smith To Merge With Freehills, Open In New York. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^ James Eyers, "Man of steel and compassion", Australian Financial Review, 19 June 2009, p 46, via Media Monitors Australia Pty Ltd and accessed 14 November 2011.
  8. ^ "Vale Keith Steele (6 April 1951–7 June 2009)". Freehills. Freehills Pty Limited. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2011. Keith played a leading role in the establishment of Freehills’ pro bono program in Sydney. In 1992 he was instrumental in establishing the Shopfront Youth Legal Centre to serve homeless young people in Kings Cross. Keith also successfully established a permanent solicitor secondment arrangement with the Kingsford Legal Centre and orchestrated Freehills becoming a founding member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House. Keith served as a director of that body for nearly 10 years from its inception.
  9. ^ source: firm history -
  10. ^ source:
  11. ^ source: Sydney Morning Herald, December 18, 1979,7085946
  12. ^ "Vale Keith Steele (6 April 1951–7 June 2009)". 11 June 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  13. ^ source – Chambers Global

External links[edit]