Mills Oakley Lawyers has launched a new not-for-profit (NFP) practice with the appointment of two senior partners, Vera Visevic and John Baxter, and their team of lawyers from Makinson d'Apice Lawyers.
Joining Mills Oakley's Sydney office this week, Visevic and Baxter bring significant experience to their new firm having represented churches, charities and philanthropic foundations - an area in which few lawyers specialise.
Their move to Mills Oakley was motivated by a need for more resources to further develop their practice and service Australia's third largest sector.
"We were looking at finding a firm that had a presence up and down the eastern seaboard because the not-for-profit sector is a national market and we were finding that we had possibilities and opportunities all over the country," Visevic explained.
"Mills Oakley is well established in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and so hopefully that will enable us to launch our practice on a bigger scale. With the resources that [the firm] has we should be able to do that fairly quickly and effectively."
Visevic and Baxter described the growing demand for legal expertise in the NFP sector, which in the past has traditionally been serviced by the pro bono arms of law firms.
"So many charities and NFPs out there weren't able to find lawyers who knew about the particular issues they were facing," Visevic said. "It's a growing sector and it's got very special needs."
And while the not-for-profit organisations have appreciated the pro bono work of lawyers, Baxter said the sector has become more complicated and so has the law.
"It's hard to keep up with the breadth of issues on a pro bono basis and I think a lot of them [NFPs] were finding that their needs had outgrown the capacity of the pro bono work that they were getting," he said.
Visevic added that in the past three years, she has seen significant growth in their practice. "Charities and NFPs get so excited when they find a lawyer that actually knows the issues and also the answers," she said.
With a team of four, including two associates, and more resources available to them at Mills Oakley, Visevic and Baxter have big plans to expand their practice.
"This is an exciting challenge at an important time for our practice," Visevic said.
Visevic and Baxter worked at Makinson d'Apice for 16 and 19 years respectively.
At Makinson d'Apice, Visevic was head of the charity and community law practice group as well as the private client group and Baxter was responsible for the firm's family law work.
- Briana Everett