IN THE WAKE of losing several members of its specialist Melbourne-based health team, Phillips Fox moved to shore up its standing in the sector by stating that further hires would be made.
The national firm also dismissed rumours that its capacity to deliver top notch industry legal advice had been significantly diminished by the defection of Natalie Franks and three other lawyers to Health Legal.
In addition to Franks and the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association (VHIA), through which the firm stands to whip up an influx of new business, claiming Health Legal’s creation heralded a major “shake-up”, innuendo was rife that large private health practices within the likes of Phillips Fox, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and another top-tier firm were on shaky ground.
Corrs failed to respond to Lawyers Weekly’s enquiries, but, in a statement, Phillips Fox corporate and financial services managing director Malcolm Shelton-Agar said: “Contrary to the rumours, Phillips Fox retains a first class health team in our Melbourne office. The firm has only lost a part-time partner and three part-time lawyers from that practice.”
“In fact, Phillips Fox is looking at expanding our team further over the next few months by employing new health consultants.”
According to Shelton-Agar, Phillips Fox still maintained 12 “dedicated health lawyers” in Melbourne and an equivalent number of partners and solicitors “with substantial health practices”.
A multidisciplinary approach to health was being adopted, which, in Shelton-Agar’s eyes, results in savings on fees.
“We have a coordinated, cross-disciplinary approach to health services, which ensures that our services are affordable, without our clients having to rely on smaller practitioners who do not have the support of a larger network,” he said.
Shelton-Agar’s reference to affordability comes after VHIA chief executive Alec Djoneff said health Legal would be in a position to offer rates between one quarter and one third less than those charged by private practice.