Workplace Law & Strategy Blog
Providing updates and insights on workplace issues and employment law from Seyfarth Shaw Australia’s team of Australian and international experts, www.workplacelawandstrategy.com.au.
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Richard Bunting
(Herbert Smith Freehills)
(K&L Gates)Jim Fox
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)Graham Smith
(Clayton Utz)Daniel Williams
(Gilbert + Tobin)Paul Brown
(Baker McKenzie)Paul Burns
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Michael Coonan
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Chris Gardner
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)Andrew Gray
(King & Wood Mallesons)Stephen Jauncey
(Lander & Rogers)Gareth Jolly
(King & Wood Mallesons)Robert Lilburne
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)Gerard Phillips
(K&L Gates)Amanda Watt
(Lander & Rogers)
(Allens)Jack de Flamingh
(Corrs Chambers Westgarth)Saul Harben
(Clayton Utz)Bruce Heddle
(People + Culture Strategies)Ross Jackson
(Corrs Chambers Westgarth)Louise Russell
(Johnson Winter & Slattery)Mark Sant
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)John Tuck
(Corrs Chambers Westgarth)Jamie Wells
(King & Wood Mallesons)Anthony Wood
(Herbert Smith Freehills)
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Rachel Bernasconi
(Seyfarth Shaw LLP)Bryony Binns
(PwC Australia)Hedy Cray
(Clayton Utz)Alice DeBoos
(K&L Gates)Bruno Di Girolami
(Squire Patton Boggs)Jan Dransfield
(Johnson Winter & Slattery)Campbell Fisher
(FCB Workplace Lawyers & Consultants)Michael Harmer
(Harmers Workplace Lawyers)Ruveni Kelleher
(Johnson Winter & Slattery)Stephen Kemp
(Stephen Kemp: Employee Relations Lawyer)Anthony Longland
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Jennie Mansfield
(Baker McKenzie)Michael Moy
(McCullough Robertson)Stephen Nettleton
(Norton Rose Fulbright)Julian Riekert
(Lander & Rogers)Adam Salter
(Jones Day)James Simpson
(KPMG Law)Maree Skinner
(King & Wood Mallesons)Sally Woodward
(Norton Rose Fulbright)
(Clayton Utz)Rohan Doyle
(Herbert Smith Freehills)Duncan Fletcher
(K&L Gates)Daniel Proietto
(Lander & Rogers)
(Clayton Utz)Simon Dewberry
(Hall & Wilcox)Patrizia Mercuri
(Lander & Rogers)Martin Osborne
(Norton Rose Fulbright)Veronica Siow
Russell Allen makes the transition from partner to consultant and continues to lead the firm on work such as Chevron's claim for damages against the Maritime Union of Australia flowing from unlawful industrial action taken by stevedoring employees of Patrick Stevedores at the Australian Marine Complex in the Henderson suburb of Perth in 2012. A source at the Bar notes that he continues to be "doing a lot of good work," particularly in the energy and resources space.
Richard Bunting brings decades of experience in the Australian industrial relations space to his role as a senior consultant, with particular expertise in executive employment issues. He was part of the team that advised South32 on employment law aspects of its demerger from BHP Billiton.
Helen McKenzie was a consultant to the team that advised the University of Sydney on employment aspects of its organisational restructure, and a related dispute. She is viewed as one of the leading experts on employment aspects of company restructurings, particularly in the airline industry.
Adrian Morris co-leads a team advising on the review of aspects of the Black Coal Mining Industry Award by the Fair Work Commission as part of the four-yearly review of modern awards. He is acknowledged as a leading name in the employment law market, with one client declaring that he "has provided great insight and value in relation to work on our EBAs" and "has a certain amount of gravitas about him which is very valuable."
Graeme Smith continues to be admired for his formidable skill in handling Australia's highest-profile industrial disputes. He acts in a consultant role at the firm and is recommended by interviewees for his expert knowledge of the market and relationships within it.
Steven Amendola continues to be acknowledged by peers as a "very good practitioner" with a "very good reputation" in strategic dispute resolution and industrial relations. He joined K&L Gates's Melbourne office from Ashurst in October 2017.
Jim Fox "is a legal expert but also has a pragmatic, business-focused approach which gives confidence and credibility when working with him," reports an impressed interviewee. As well as leading the department he also advises on some of Australia's most high-profile contentious industrial relations matters and is singled out by an energy sector source as "a tremendous lawyer."
Ian Humphreys leads the firm's work for Capcoal in defence of adverse action proceedings brought by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) before the Federal Court after Capcoal made the decision to restructure and make redundant a number of positions. Peers report that he is a "really good operator" on industrial relations and employment law matters, while a client says of a recent prosecution: "He managed that fantastically."
Henry Skene is held in the highest regard by his peers, who describe him as "an exceptional lawyer" and "a real heavy-hitter," as well as his clients, who report that he "continues to provide strategic and practical advice. He understands the practical commerciality of running a business and the need to balance this while operating within the legal framework." He represented Programmed in novel proceedings in the anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission which sought to stop bullying of Programmed workers during the 2016 CUB brewery dispute.
Graham Smith is held up as "a doyen of the sector" by his peers, having spent around 30 years advising major corporations and government bodies at all levels on workplace relations. He regularly appears in proceedings before Fair Work Australia and has provided advice to ExxonMobil and the Group of Eight universities on industrial relations issues.
Dan Williams continues to grow in stature as an industrial relations expert through work such as his successful representation of Teys Australia Beenleigh before the Federal Court, following protracted industrial disputes regarding conditions and enterprise bargaining with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union. A source remarks that "his knowledge of that area of law is second to none," and that he is "also a very good advocate who holds his own even against barristers."
Dianne Banks wins praise from clients for her "very pragmatic and practical" advice on employment and industrial relations. "I truly believe that Di is the best lawyer that I have had the privilege to work with," declares one interviewee, adding that she "has the ability to operate as a true business partner when I have sought her counsel." She represented Pegela Rural Enterprises in a prosecution by SafeWork NSW after the fatality of a contractor.
Paul Brown is based in Sydney and advises clients on the full gamut of employment and industrial relations issues for companies operating in a broad range of industries. He is warmly praised by clients, one explaining: "He's had some cracker results for us. He's one of the leading industrial specialists in the country," and another explaining: "His advice from an HR perspective is second to none."
Paul Burns assisted Coles in preparing sophisticated legal contingencies in response to anticipated unlawful picketing when a breakdown in negotiations for a new enterprise agreement at a critical distribution centre in Laverton in Victoria became apparent. A solicitor peer cites him as "one of the elite operators in Australia," while prominent clients declare him to be "a very authentic and humble individual who engenders a very comfortable and engaging environment" and "a true technical expert with a strong client focus."
Michael Coonan"remains an incredible support and fount of knowledge for us to refer to," reports one client, going on to praise him for his "consistent delivery of sound, commercial and pragmatic advice." He draws on more than 30 years of experience advising on and litigating industrial relations matters in the resources, infrastructure and construction sectors.
Chris Gardner specialises in workplace strategy and enterprise bargaining negotiations and has been advising Victoria International Container Terminal in the setting up of its employment terms and conditions including the creation of an enterprise agreement. Clients report that he "continues to demonstrate a deep understanding of the particular challenges our business faces and applies his professional expertise to help us solve our problems," and "gives clear advice, does not overstate the potential outcomes and is diligent in his addressing of issues in a fast manner."
Andrew Gray is recognised for his high-quality employment and WHS work, such as his representation of SunRice in an investigation into a fatality at one of its sites and subsequent review of its safety governance systems. One client praises him for "his depth of knowledge of all aspects of employment law and our commercial constraints," "his willingness to act as a partner" and "his availability at short notice," while another reports that he is "very easy to work with and offers very pragmatic advice."
Stephen Jauncey is considered to be "a genuine leader in this field," notes a client, adding that "both factually and legally he is meticulous in his advice, litigation and advocacy" while "his attention to detail means that he is also a very capable advocate and negotiator."
Gareth Jolly led the Australian Building and Construction Commission in its prosecution of the CFMEU and union officials and delegates after a work stoppage at the Barangaroo construction project. He is a renowned employment litigator and regularly appears before the Fair Work Commission, the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Murray Kellock co-heads the firm's employee relations and safety practice and leads the team on a variety of matters involving the Fair Work Act. One source points to his excellent leadership skills, while another explains he is "always a delight to deal with" and is "commercial and pragmatic."
Rob Lilburne continues his Perth-based practice, drawing on more than 20 years of experience as a key adviser on labour relations and safety issues. His expertise is especially valued by resources industry clients such as INPEX, which he recently assisted in negotiations with the Australian maritime unions to implement their private dispute settlement process.
Darren Perry is the firm's Australian managing partner and department head, and advised Patrick Stevedores on its collective bargaining negotiations with the Maritime Union of Australia. A source at the Bar declares that he is "the market leader in Sydney" for industrial relations work, while a solicitor peer acknowledges him as "a very good practitioner."
Gerard Phillips is recognised for his broad practice encompassing the labour relations and WHS spheres and was recently part of the team that represented an aged care provider in relation to a fire at a nursing home which resulted in the death of a number of residents and significant damage to the home. Peers report that he is "well regarded" in the market, and a major client notes: "I have been very impressed with his knowledge during the matters he has been involved in."
Amanda Watt is regarded as a go-to adviser for sensitive and complex workplace relations matters, as in her recent representation of Victoria's Department of Education and Training in negotiations to replace the enterprise agreement governing the employment of more than 30,000 government teachers and staff. A client declares that she is "a very good negotiator" who "gets to the heart of the problem" and is the "epitome of a trusted adviser."
Stephen Woodbury is regarded as "personable, easy to deal with and knowledgeable" by a client while also being endorsed by peers as "a really good practitioner." He maintains his position as the firm's global practice head for employment as well as leading the group in work such as EBA negotiations and dispute proceedings for Qantas and the University of Sydney.
Tony Woods remains a trusted industrial relations adviser for New South Wales government clients and advised Transport for NSW on employment issues related to its call for expressions of interest for an operator of a new light rail and the existing bus and ferry services in Newcastle. "No one knows the transport industry as well as Tony. He is the go-to person for all things rail," declares one interviewee, while others report that he is "always a delight to work with on some extremely stressful subjects" and is "very responsive to urgent requests with tight deadlines."
Peter Arthur maintains his reputation as a high-quality employment law adviser and litigator and continues to act on high-profile matters for blue-chip clients. He represented Royal Bank of Scotland Group in claims by former ABN AMRO executives for severance and bonus payments and is described by a client as "very experienced, highly strategic and practical in approach, and great to work with."
Jack de Flamingh is hailed by one client as a "very commercial and pragmatic" employment lawyer who "conscientiously works to resolve matters efficiently and cost-effectively while still maintaining a high quality of service," and whose "advice is considered in its approach and takes into account commercial imperatives as well as the legal issues." He continues to advise Weir Minerals Australia on a range of industrial, employment and WHS matters.
Saul Harben continues to lead the firm's national workplace relations, employment and safety team while still maintaining an active practice, such as his advice to Aphrodite Gold following the removal of the CEO/company secretary and the managing director. A source relates that he is "efficient, knowledgeable, and knows how we operate and the outcome we typically want."
Bruce Heddle leads the firm's Sydney practice group and is rated highly by peers as an employment litigator in the WHS and equal opportunity area. He acted for BGC Partners in Supreme Court proceedings to enforce contract and post-employment restraints of trade after the resignation of a senior broker who then took up employment with a competitor.
Joydeep Hor is the managing principal of People + Culture Strategies and continues to be regarded as a valued adviser and thought leader in the workplace relations space. He assists a variety of high-profile clients with the resolution of contentious workplace matters as well as providing advice and training.
Ross Jackson is seen by clients as "highly professional, extremely thorough and knowledgeable, customer-focused and responsive," as well as "a very quick thinker who articulates his points extremely well." He represented a major Australian logistics company in its successful defence of an unfair dismissal claim after a long-standing employee of the company was dismissed for misconduct.
Jennifer Patterson maintains a niche practice in discrimination law as well as acting for a variety of clients on the broader spectrum of workplace relations mandates. She is singled out by one client as a "proficient and talented lawyer," while another goes so far as to say: "In terms of quality I have not seen anyone better."
Stephen Price is regarded as a skilled employment litigator and recently acted for the Australian Building and Construction Commission in prosecution proceedings against the CFMEU in connection with alleged industrial action. A source reports that he is "always available and provides reliable, timely, solid and consistently high-standard advice," adding that "nothing is a problem and he always reacts in a considered but customer-centric fashion, as well as being legally sound."
Louise Russell joins the team to continue her work as special counsel advising on a variety of workplace relations issues, EBA negotiations and WHS matters. In a matter involving novel arguments, she acted for Yarra Trams in relation to proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court involving claims of false imprisonment and breach of enterprise agreement and the Fair Work Act.
Mark Sant has extensive industrial relations and employment law experience through work such as his advice to a large pipe manufacturer and supplier on a replacement EBA for their Victorian operations. An impressed client reports that he is "proactive in keeping informed about employment law and what is happening in our industry," while another says he is "very responsive and has great customer service."
Michael Tamvakologos acts for Telstra in relation to multiple executive hiring and termination matters and defence of litigation in the Fair Work Commission concerning the correct classification of a group of employees. He continues to make an impression on the market, with a major client lauding him as an "excellent IR and HR lawyer" and adding: "I've never come across anyone in that space as good," while a leading member of the employment Bar proclaims: "I've rarely seen such excellent technical work."
John Tuck heads the firm's national employment, workplace relations and safety group and is especially well regarded for his work for government bodies such as the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, which he advised on major enterprise agreements. One interviewee notes that he is "very client-focused, and genuinely tries to always support the needs of his clients and to deliver tailored, customised solutions," while a peer reports that he "continues to do well in government work."
Jamie Wells advised Queensland Treasury Corporation and Energy Queensland on employment aspects of the merger that resulted in the establishment of Energy Queensland. Clients are full of praise for his practice, with one declaring that he "has strong policy judgement and this flows into good understanding of different perspectives and objectives," while another says: "His practical and commercially-focused approach to our matters has resolved our issues swiftly and with significant savings."
Anthony Wood is hailed by clients who say he is "extremely knowledgeable in his areas of legal expertise" and is "able to convert legal principles and meanings into practical workplace solutions." He advised Toyota in its investigation into alleged misconduct by its supervisors and leads the practice group's national training programmes.
Miles Bastick remains regional head of employment for Australia and Asia as well as leading teams to advise on numerous contentious matters involving executive terminations. He has more than 20 years of experience in employment and safety matters and continues to be highly regarded by his peers.
Rachel Bernasconi is a skilled adviser on discrimination and industrial disputes and recently represented ANZ in defending disability discrimination proceedings commenced in the Federal Circuit Court by a former employee. "Her advice is sound, pragmatic and commercial," notes one satisfied client, adding that "she provides solutions and is willing to look outside the square," while another client names her as a "very experienced senior partner who is proactive and sensible."
Bryony Binns moves to PwC Australia from her previous position at Baker McKenzie. One source announces that she is "personable, thorough and puts matters into context," while another dubs her "a top-notch labour lawyer" who provides "tremendous help with good practical advice with a good balance between risk, reputation and commercial impact for the business."
Hedy Cray leads the firm's Brisbane employment law practice and is endorsed by a client as "undoubtedly an expert in employment law," whose "response time and service in bringing about successful outcomes is of the highest standard" and whose "practical written advice is thorough and relevant." Her excellence as an onsite workplace relations trainer is widely acknowledged, as is her skill as a litigator.
Alice DeBoos is "fantastic," declares a client, before adding: "I have worked closely with her and she is able to quickly understand the issues at play and provide different options and strategies, and then drive for results." She leads the practice group from Sydney and has lately advised the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on compliance with local employment laws across the many different countries in which it operates.
Bruno Di Girolami co-leads the practice group and is described as "very detailed and organised" by a client, who goes on to praise his "excellent knowledge of employment law and investigations" and says he is "always available when required and is willing to go above and beyond to get the job done." He represented Metso Australia after a senior executive brought claims against it for alleged breach of employment contract following his termination of employment.
Jan Dransfield has more than 20 years' experience advising clients in sensitive workplace relations matters. Clients are exceedingly happy with her work, with one noting that she "understands our commercial drivers and objectives and is a true partner with us" and that "she is an excellent litigator and handles complex litigious matters calmly and strategically," while another reports that she is "easy to deal with, knowledgeable and commercially astute."
Campbell Fisher continues in his role as the firm's managing partner and manages the firm's suite of industrial relations and employment matters across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. He led the team in its work on Sunday penalty rates for the Australian Retailers Association and is highly regarded as a litigator.
Michael Harmer of Harmers Workplace Lawyers has more than 35 years' experience in the Australian workplace relations space as an adviser on high-profile contentious matters. As chair and firm founder he continues to win praise from clients, who report that he "stands out due to experience and knowledge," has "excellent legal knowledge that is current with the latest legislation and outcomes," and "gives clear and cogent employment law advice about management strategy."
Ruveni Kelleher leads the firm's employment group while also maintaining a busy practice acting for clients such as Seven West Media, Macquarie University and Yarra Valley Snackfoods in high-profile litigious proceedings. A client relates that she has a "very impressive, professional and pragmatic approach, which is right for my business."
Stephen Kemp departs his role as head of Jackson McDonald's employment department to begin his own Perth-based boutique. Sources note that he is "very thorough in all aspects of his work" and "very determined in expressing his arguments," while also being "articulate in delivering advice."
Anthony Longland works from the firm's Perth office as a key adviser and advocate on major industrial disputes, as well as more general employment work. He is seen as a go-to practitioner for clients in the resources and oil and gas sectors, and acted for BHP Billiton Nickel West in a dispute over the right of officials of the CFMEU to enter upon BHP's premises.
Jennie Mansfield advises clients across a wide range of industries on employment and workplace relations matters. One source declares that they "would recommend her off the top of my head straight away," while another says: "Her knowledge of the market as well as her mastery of Australian employment law is invaluable to us. She is trusted counsel who operates at all levels within the organisation and is a trusted go-to person for our CEO."
Michael Michalandos acted for Trilogy and its directors in proceedings commenced against it by Crowe Horwarth and Findex relating to the enforcement of post-employment restrictions following the departure of three key executives from the multinational firm. He gets rave reviews from a client who says he was "a standout" on a recent matter and "provided robust, commercial, practical, timely and sensitive advice that went beyond mere legal advice."
Michael Moy co-leads the workplace relations department of Brisbane-based firm McCullough Robertson and acts on major industrial matters for clients including Queensland Health and One Key Resources. One interviewee asserts: "He's pragmatic, personable and can explain difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. He's a good lawyer to have on your side, understands our industry in great depth and has an approach which makes you feel like his only client."
Stephen Nettleton has nearly 30 years of experience advising clients on issues including enterprise bargaining, union right of entry, termination of employment and redundancy, as well as WHS matters. One client names him as "probably a standout for me," while a peer endorses him as a "very good practitioner."
Sarah Ralph enters the table on the strength of excellent market feedback and more than 15 years' experience as an adviser on industrial relations matters for clients in the health sciences, oil and gas, government and other sectors. A source highlights her "very broad industrial relations knowledge, strong presentation skills in front of the Fair Work Commission and strategic approach to providing clear practical solutions to often very complex matters."
Julian Riekert acted for the Country Fire Authority of Victoria in a significant dispute relating to a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement with the United Firefighters Union to cover its operational employees at 35 integrated stations. A peer acknowledges that he "has been a very distinguished practitioner for many years" in the workplace relations space, while clients say that "he's a real expert in employment law matters and offers pragmatic and cost-conscious advice" and that "his strengths are his ability to get to the heart of an issue quickly."
Adam Salter of Jones Day maintains a broad practice covering employment law, M&A transactions and other general commercial work. An interviewee reports that his "breadth of experience is obvious in the practicality of his advice," while another says he "always impresses with his professionalism, efficiency and speed in providing advice and his ability to understand the legal issue in the context of our business."
James Simpson joins KPMG Law this year to lead the workplace and employment law practice. He is an experienced adviser and litigator and has a strong reputation for his combination of technical nous and outstanding client service.
Maree Skinner co-leads DibbsBarker from its Sydney headquarters and is described by clients as a "brilliant negotiator," especially with regard to executive remuneration and the employment-related aspects of company restructurings. She led the team that advised Domino's Pizza on its handling of an investigation into underpayments by the Fair Work Ombudsman, as well as its IR strategy and new enterprise agreement.
Philip Willox remains highly active as a go-to adviser for employment contract, EBA negotiation and WHS matters, as well as maintaining his position as co-leader of the practice group. Sources report that he is "a good leader who manages his team well," is "knowledgeable and practical" and has "the ability to manage all facets of complex industrial disputes."
Sally Woodward"provided timely, detailed and pragmatic support to define and measure the legal compliance and alignment of our training and the legislative requirements," notes one client from a recent mandate. Lately she represented the Commissioner Police of NSW Police in a discrimination hearing and advised Lendlease on its global online training.
Abraham Ash is based in the firm's Sydney office and maintains a broad practice across employee contract negotiation, unfair dismissal and WHS issues. He acts for a variety of government and private sector clients, and is endorsed by a prominent client as being "commercially focused and super responsive."
Rohan Doyle continues to consolidate his practice as a Brisbane-based partner through high-quality work on enterprise bargaining and industrial disputes, such as his action for Qantas in bargaining for replacement enterprise agreements covering Qantas's aircraft maintenance operations. One source remarks that he is "a very well-regarded practitioner," while another says he is "technically very strong."
Duncan Fletcher maintains a busy Perth-based practice representing clients in industrial relations and other employment matters such as contracts, WHS issues and discrimination. He acted for Kentz in relation to a test case involving the interpretation of a clause in enterprise agreements applying to thousands of employees of the USD54 billion Gorgon LNG Project.
Daniel Proietto leads the workplace relations and safety group and advises on a variety of matters, such as unfair dismissal claims for Coles and Reece. Numerous clients enthuse about his service and quality of advice, with one deeming him to be "friendly and approachable and very responsive to e-mails and phone calls," and reporting that "he trusts his people to do a good job while providing supervision and oversight, and provides advice in plain English in an easily accessible format in a timely manner."