Amongst an uncertain economic environment and spanning a state election with surprise results, Queensland’s employment lawyers have fared better than expected over the past 12 months. They’ve been active but not bouyant and for most it’s been a question of improving positioning rather than banking cheques.
There’s no surprises in our higher ranked firms this year however within the upper levels of ranked individuals there’s a distinctive youthful influence. Steve Smith at Herbert Smith Freehills, Shae McCartney and Christy Miller at Clayton Utz and, James Hall at Ashurst all bring different practice styles to the market that are clearly being embrace. Combined with the more established presences of Hedy Cray (Clayton Utz), Rohen Cullen (Franklin Athanasellis Cullen), Charles Massy (Hall Payne), and McCullough Robertson’s Mick Moy and Cam Dean there’s a band of top quality lawyers under 45 who look set to shape the Queensland employment law market in years to come.
Not to be forgotten and within this framework sit former colleagues Martin Osborne (Norton Rose Fulbright) and Murray Procter (DLA Piper), individuals with vastly different styles when it comes to personality, practice style and firm brand. For now newcomer Procter has the jump on Osborne and he and his firm (DLA Piper) were the big mover in our rankings this year.
The revolving door of personnel at Corrs Chambers Westgarth has unfortunately affect the firm’s ranking. Partner Nick Le Mare sate at the top of our Recommended Lawyer rankings and it seems only length of tenure combined with the strength of work will improve the firm’s standing in the market.
Our 2015 rankings also welcome a host of new entrants from a firm and individuals perspective. Smaller local firms firms are the key in this regard and their focus on quality and affordability has yielded results. Chief amongst these are Rob Stevenson at Australian Workplace Lawyers and Jill Hignett at HR Lawyers who were embraced by individuals across all styles of firms. Mention should also be made of the fledgling practices at Mills Oakley and Thomson Geer – it’s still early days but, to date both practices seem to be making inroads.
Nonetheless the biggest development in the Queensland employment law market in recent times may be just around the corner. Global employment specialist Seyfarth Shaw has had its eyes on this market for over a year and apparently is on the cusp of setting up. it’s method in other markets has been to take the young promising talent from a leading firm, we would expect this strategy to be replicatedin Queensland.