For the majority of Victoria’s employment lawyers it’s been a busy year perhaps most categorised by aggressive industrial relations matters being replaced by a broad range of employment matters. Similarly a new state government has resulted in the Victorian government/public service that normally provides a steady and somewhat predictable flow of matters being quieter than usual.
While our 2015 rankings on the face of it appear by and large similar to those of 2014 a closer back-end analysis sees the potential for change looming large. The prospect of “generational change” amongst many of the market’s stronger employment practice has loomed large since our initial rankings in 2010 however it appears to have reached it’s apex. At Minter Ellison Michael Tehan has retired, Herbert Smith Freehills Graeme Smith has moved to a more managerial role and in many such firms there’s an increasing tendency to highlight the most senior figure and overlook talented juniors. Any real change in market dynamics is most likely two to three years away however if the likes of Seyfarth Shaw added to their artillery or Ashurst found a succession plan as well regarded as Michael Tamvokologos (now at Seyfarth Shaw) then these two could comfortably set a pace that would be difficult for others to follow.
Victoria’s mid-tier employment practices continue to increase their presence in the employment space. A number of mid-tiers have countered the larger firm’s traditional retort of size and capacity to deal with significant matters by bolstering their personnel numbers and indeed the employment practices at some mid-tier firms now dwarf their counterparts at larger firms. Indeed the 2010 dissolution of specialist employment firm Trindade Farr & Pill presented something of a watermark for mid-tier and specialist employment law firms in the Victorian legal market. Since that time it’s been seemingly all downhill for employer-side specialist firms with few making any real impact in the market and a number following Trindade Farr & Pill’s lead and integrating their practice into a larger national firm.