Mills Oakley farewells longest-serving partner
Roger Jepson – who has worked with Mills Oakley for 31 years, including as chairman, board director and, most recently, as general counsel – left the national firm at the end of December 2020.
Mills Oakley has bidden farewell to one of its senior statesmen, Mr Jepson, calling him “one of the true gentlemen” of the legal profession in Australia.
He was the firm’s longest-serving partner, Mills Oakley said in a statement, noting that he contributed to the firm in various leadership roles, including as firm chair, board director, chair of the firm’s risk management committee, and finally, general counsel.
Mr Jepson will spend his retirement cycling, sailing and spending time with his two grandchildren.
Chief executive John Nerurker said that Mr Jepson would be “sorely missed”.
“I have always said the ambition of every Mills Oakley partner should be to leave a legacy. We should all aim to leave the firm in a better place than when we arrived,” he observed.
“If there was ever an example to follow, it is Roger. He has been an integral part of the Mills Oakley growth story, from a mid-size Melbourne partnership to a leading national law firm. Throughout that time, Roger has been our rock. He’s been our voice of reason, our moral compass and the person that commands our attention in times of unrest. He has helped to build Mills Oakley to the firm we are today.”
Reflecting on the past three decades, Mr Jepson said that the legal profession has “changed dramatically”.
“When I started with Mills Oakley in the 80s, we were carrying ‘portable’ telephones the size and weight of a house brick,” he recalled.
“Fax was the cutting-edge technology and when the first electronic typewriters came in, we all gathered around to witness the marvel of seeing words appearing on a screen. There was no email back then, so you had to get your work done by the last mail run. Work/life balance was better – you were generally done and out the door by 6pm and that was standard across the profession, even at the largest firms.”
However, the most significant change that Mr Jepson has witnessed is increased gender diversity: “It is pleasing to see that diversity has become a key topic in our professional discourse.”
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been overseeing the progression of Mills Oakley’s first ‘home grown’ female partners. Particularly in my own area, insolvency and commercial litigation, we have women who commenced as clerks and graduates and are now supervising multimillion-dollar practices,” he said.
Ultimately, it is satisfying for Mr Jepson to have left the firm on a “high note”.
“Mills Oakley has gone from strength to strength in my time here,” he said.
“I’ve witnessed many milestones – the opening of new offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth. We hired our 100th partner and crossed the $200m revenue mark. But through all that, the firm’s commitment to integrity and working collaboratively in our clients’ best interests has never wavered. It is a special place to be.”