“WHY WOULD I, who have been at [Blake Dawson Waldron] since I was 17, be leaving at this late stage of my career? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?” said Gary Trollope, insurance partner with the firm’s Melbourne office, now 62, who last week announced his decision to move across to Gadens along with his partner Rob Perry, who has also been with the firm for close to 20 years.
Trollope’s question, posed off-the-cuff, reflected the unease in his own mind and the difficulty with which he has made this decision.
“It’s not something I have done lightly,” he said, before adding that with his father before him working as a clerk for the top-tier firm, there had been a Trollope at Blakes for close to 90 years.
However, this is indeed the decision that both he and Perry have made.
Trollope and Perry said: “Having regard to the strategic decision that [Blakes] has taken in relation to our insurance practice, that would have meant the departure of some of our long-standing clients that we’re absolutely committed to.
“Also, it would have jeopardised the career path for a number of our people and to us that was not an option. So what we’ve done [moved to Gadens], enables us to continue to offer to service all of our clients, provide a career path for our people and continue to practise in all of the core areas of our business.”
David Maddocks a senior lawyer in the group, will be joining them as a partner at Gadens. Exactly who would be leaving Blakes for Gadens was unclear; however, Gadens’ Melbourne chairman Nick Stretch believed the final head count could be between eight and 10.
Trollope and Perry said offering both routine claims work and complex, high-value, quality work was equally important, and moving to Gadens would allow them to do this in a cost-effective way. Both partners contended that this was the driving force behind their decision to make the move to Gadens, given Blakes very public flagging of its decision to not engage in routine claims work.
“This is a strategic move and it’s something that we discussed with the partners all along. [Trollope and Perry] were supportive of the strategy. They had several options and looked into going to a number of firms, so it’s very much to Gadens’ credit that they selected Gadens. It certainly wasn’t a case of us pushing them out the door,” said Blakes managing partner John Atkin.
“[Blake’s] focus is more on building close relationships with major clients. We don’t want to try and do all their work, but rather hone in on their more difficult areas. By understanding their business and their problems, we are then able to tailor our service to add value in their business.
“Because we’ve adopted this approach of examining each client’s individual circumstances, we can’t bring the same leverage to bear. It probably means our pricing model is different to Gadens,” he said.
Gadens’ Stretch said he was thrilled with the development as it gave his firm the critical mass to further develop their insurance practice. “Having partners the calibre of Trollope and Perry will enable the growth of this practice. With them we’re up and running instantly.
“Ironically, we’re probably more corporate in our structure here at Gadens, which delivers us a relatively much higher profit margin,” he said.