FOR THOSE left on Victorian WorkCover Authority’s (VWA) panel after the mid-year culling of two national firms, life must be grand if developments over at Abbott Stillman & Wilson (ASW) are anything to go by.
In the past three months, the Melbourne mid-tier firm has poached nine lawyers from around town, including three for its VWA practice, which recently had its spot on the six-firm panel renewed.
Interestingly, the man hired to add weight to the insurance group, special counsel Brett Penberthy, formerly worked for Gadens. ASW, however, denied picking a valuable eye from its cross town rival, whose VWA practice became defunct when cast off the panel in May.
“We were looking around for someone at a senior level to add to our WorkCover team. Discussions with Brett had nothing to do with what Gadens is doing,” said ASW chief executive Chris Arnold. “We don’t know anything about what is happening at Gadens.”
Joining Penberthy in the WorkCover group are solicitors Aysela Kolasinac and Steve Notarianni, the former from Deacons, the firm removed from VWA’s books this year along with Gadens.
Arnold said more work was being generated by VWA, and agreed that the recent shake up had been a bonus for those still on board.
“You can confidently say, that with the panel recently reduced from eight to six firms, there has been a re-allocation of work. Those still here have taken a share of work previously carried out by the firms that are no longer on the panel.”
Arnold “partly” agreed with suggestions that recent job cuts from rivals had facilitated the simultaneous rush of hires at ASW.
“But there’s more to it than that. A big part is the culture. The management here provide the airconditioning or climate control in the kitchen, to bring out the best in everyone, and ensure that the whole group — not just a few stars — perform well as an integrated team.”