A Slater & Gordon partner and former colleague of Julia Gillard says Australia's first female Prime Minister always acted with compassion, loyalty and professionalism during her time with the firm.
Slater & Gordon partner Paul Henderson made the comments today after his former colleague was elected unopposed to lead the Australian Labor Party.
"The new Prime Minister is someone who remains an inspiration to the many lawyers and particularly female lawyers who join Slater & Gordon to practise law and make a contribution to society," Henderson said.
"Today they are that much more prouder of the history that she has made.
"On a personal note I remember her support personally when a terminally ill client lost her high-profile case over breast cancer," Henderson continued.
"Julia offered not just legal advice but hugs and support on what was a very emotional day. Following which she advised me to compose myself and get on with the task of professionally supporting my client. That was just Julia.
"Whenever there was a social event at her home, she didn't just invite her lawyer colleagues but fellow workers and support staff across the board," Henderson said.
After completing a law degree with the University of Melbourne, Gillard undertook a six-month course with the Leo Cussen Institute - an alternative to being an articled clerk. She undertook two weeks of work experience with Slater & Gordon as part of the course, before being offered a fulltime position in 1978.
Gillard joined the Slater & Gordon partnership in 1990, before leaving the firm in 1995 to pursue her political career.
The appointment was also welcomed by Australian Women Lawyers
President Oliva Perkiss said the circumstances surrounding her appointment should not overshadow the fact that it is an historic event. "Julia has been appointed by her party because of her experience in law, politics and for her leadership skills," she says. "As female lawyers, we should welcome and congratulate her appointment. Julia has sent a message to all women, especially female lawyers that if you strive to be the best that you can be, you too can achieve your dreams, no matter who you are."