The former head of ASIC enforcement, Jan Redfern, has joined Sparke Helmore to expand its niche government and regulatory practice.
Redfern will join the firm as a consultant, combining both her technical expertise and ability to develop new business opportunities as a “rainmaker” for the firm. Prior to joining ASIC in 1999, Redfern was an equity partner at Hunt & Hunt. She says the legal market has changed dramatically in those 10 years, opening up flexible working relationships beyond the limitations of the partnership model.
“There’s so much more flexibility for someone like me, who wants to come into a firm with new ideas and be a bit of a rainmaker and work with various groups. That’s why I think consulting works really well for me, and, hopefully, will work well for Sparke Helmore.
Phillip Salem, national leader of the firm’s Commercial Practice Group, said recruiting Redfern was a coup for the firm. “Jan’s exceptional expertise and experience is a significant boost to our offering toAustralian corporations, and comes at a time when those clients are very much focussed on the regulation of their operations.”
The fallout from the international credit crisis, she said, will be more scrutiny of market regulation. Even though Australia has led the way in this regard, Redfern said the market should expect more regulation.
“I think definitely there will be greater regulation, or probably slightly different regulation. And regulation in areas that weren’t previously regulated,” she said.
“The community and the legislature and everybody understood that there would be greater regulation arising out of the 2001 collapses. So I think the community will understand and expect greater regulation.”
Redfern will be well placed to track and interpret the changing regulation for Sparke clients. Redfern managed more than 350 investigations in her role as Executive Director of Enforcement with ASIC, with close involvement in the conduct of high-profile proceedings including HIH, James Hardie, AWB, and Opes Prime.
Although she had intended to take only a short break from private practice, the diversity of the work offered by ASIC, and its expansion into a national regulatory body, kept Redfern occupied for the next decade.
“The role in ASIC was very multi-faceted. I had over 400 staff across Australia. It was a multi-disciplinary team made up of quite a large number of lawyers, investigators, accountants, market specialists,” she said.
“ASIC has always run the majority of its cases internally, with a fairly large internal team. It runs its own litigation. So it was a bit like running a mini law firm in a way, I suppose.”
Despite her rapid ascension through the ranks at ASIC, a return to private practice was always part of her long-term career plan, Redfern said. “I originally intended to only work there for a couple of years, and then either go back to private practice or go into the corporate world.”
Sparke Helmore’s government and regulatory practice group was the drawcard for Redfern to make her return to the private sector. “This opportunity arose, and I could see a lot of exciting and good opportunities to develop a niche regulatory practice.
“I don’t think there’s any particular law firm that’s done that. A lot of law firms act for corporate in a broad range of matters — including when they’re acting for or involved with the regulator. But I think I have a unique opportunity to really develop that practice.”