Thomson Geer

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Thomson Geer
Thomson Geer.JPG
Headquarters 1 O'Connell Street
Sydney, Australia
No. of offices 4 [1]
Major practice areas Full service commercial law [2]
Key people Adrian Tembel (CEO)
Revenue Green Arrow Up.svg $135 million
Date founded 1885 [3]
Company type Partnership

Thomson Geer is an independent Australian commercial law firm founded in 1885. [3] [4] Its predecessor firms included Thomsons Lawyers and Herbert Geer. [5] The firm operates a full commercial law service as a fully integrated national firm with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. [6] It is one of the top ten firms in the country by revenue, and the seventh largest firm in Australia by headcount. [7]



Rialto Towers, Thomson Geer's Melbourne office Rialto Tower.jpg
Rialto Towers, Thomson Geer’s Melbourne office

Thomson Geer was formed on 31 March 2014 as a merger of two mid-tier Australian practices, Thomson Lawyers and Herbert Geer. [8] The result was a firm with annual revenue in excess of $120 million, and the seventh largest firm in Australia by headcount. [9] [10]

Thomsons Lawyers

Thomsons Lawyers was an incarnation of a number of prominent boutique firms throughout Australia that merged. [4] [11] The firm's origins date back to 1885 when Hiram Wentworth Varley and Griffith Mostyn Evan began practice under the name of 'Varley & Evan'. [11] In 1913 they were joined by Harry Thomson KC, and the name changed to 'Varley Evan & Thomson', the first of a succession of 'Thomson' firms, such as Thomsons Solicitors & Barristers, Thomson Simmons & Co and later, Thomson Playford. [4] [11]

In 2006, Thomson Playford established a Sydney practice by merging with Cowley Hearne a North Sydney-based boutique founded in the 1960s. [12] [13] In 2008, Thomson Playford merged with Sydney CBD based boutique, Cutler, Hughes & Harris, becoming Thomson Playford Cutlers. [4] [14] Later that year, the firm controversially poached the entire Melbourne practice of national mid-tier firm, Dibbs Abbott Stillman. [15] [16] This prompted Dibbs Abbott Stillman to rename itself to Dibbs Barker. [16] In 2010, the firm rebranded to Thomsons Lawyers. [4]

In 2011, Thomsons Lawyers expanded to Brisbane, with 10 partners and 51 professional and support staff defecting from DLA Phillips Fox to establish the Brisbane practice. [17] [18] [19]

Prior to the 2014 merger with Herbert Geer, Thomsons experienced significant growth since 2009, with revenue and average profit per partner, tripling. [20]

Herbert Geer

Waterfront Place, Brisbane, Thomson Geer's Brisbane offices Waterfront Place, Brisbane 02.2014 01.jpg
Waterfront Place, Brisbane, Thomson Geer’s Brisbane offices

Herbert Geer was a Melbourne-based law firm founded in 1939 when Keith Geer commenced his sole practice in Bank Place, off Collins Street, Melbourne. Temporarily suspending practice during the Second World War, he was joined by Geoffrey Herbert in 1946. In 1950 the partnership expanded further with the addition of Eric Rundell and in 1960 it assumed the name, Herbert Geer & Rundle. [21] In 1962, the Melbourne office relocated to 113 William Street, taking with it a total of ten partners and staff. Between 1962 and 1970, three small practices were absorbed into Herbert Geer & Rundle; Farmer & Ramsay, William & Matthews and the office of Cyril Brooks.

The firm achieved publicity in the early 1970s by handling the defendant’s litigation for all workers' compensation claims arising from the West Gate Bridge collapse. Further office relocations occurred with moves to Owen Dixon Chambers and BHP House before arriving at the State Bank Building in 1983 when the firm had 12 partners and 110 staff. In April 1999, Herbert Geer & Rundle opened a Sydney office and expanded to Brisbane in early 2001. [22]

In 2008 the firm rebranded as Herbert Geer. [23] At the same time it joined with Brisbane firm Nicol Robinson Halletts Lawyers, as well as the boutique construction firm RDK in Sydney. [24]

Prior to the merger with Thomson Lawyers, Herbert Geer’s partnership had fallen by 28% from 53 partners to 38 in the preceding 3 years, due to lateral defections. [22]

In 2015, Thomson Geer defended iiNet and other ISPs such as Telstra and Optus in Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited, [25] [26] a case brought in the Federal Court of Australia by Dallas Buyers Club for breach of copyright laws. [27] [28] The case set legal precedence in Australia, whereby copyright holders can gain access to the details of internet users who illegally obtain their copyright material. [29] This will lead to individuals in breach of copyright be liable to damages by copyright holders. [30] Thomson Geer successfully argued that any damages must only be compensatory and not exemplary, like in the United States. [31] [32] [33]

In 2013, Thomsons successfully acted for the Plaintiffs in the Maiden Civil Case in Australia under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) (PPSA). [34] [35] The case established that the nemo dat rule has been displaced in Australia where the PPSA applies, and businesses that lease personal property must declare their interests under the Personal Property Securities Register, to maintain a priority. [36] [37]

In 2011, Thomsons advised the Mitchell Group on the $1.2 billion Fitzroy Coal Terminal Project, which created coal chain supply infrastructure capable to transporting 22 million tonnes of coal per annum to and from Central Queensland. [38] [39] The project created significant concerns about potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef, and in 2014 the project was indefinitely put on hold [40]

In 2010, Herbert Geer successfully argued that State Parliaments cannot prevent State Supreme Courts from issuing prerogative relief for jurisdictional error, in the landmark High Court case of Kirk v Industrial Court of New South Wales. [41] [42] The case set a significant precedent in administrative and constitutional law that s 71 of the Constitution of Australia protects the integrity of State Supreme Courts. [43] [44]


Thomson Geer has 4 offices across Australia. [6] The firm is headquartered in Sydney, on 1 O'Connell Street. [45] The Melbourne office is located at Rialto Towers on 525 Collins Street, the Brisbane office is in Waterfront Place and the Adelaide office is on 19 Gouger Street. [20]

Main practice areas

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  41. (2010) 239 CLR 531
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