LESS THAN six months after being cast off Victorian WorkCover Authority’s (VWA’s) panel of legal services providers, Gadens is in the final stages of releasing three equity partners who formerly worked closely with the public sector insurer.
Melbourne chairman Nick Stretch last week confirmed that David Tulloch, John Cavanagh, and Geoff Provis — along with “one or two other solicitors” — were close to severing ties with the mid-tier firm.
Describing the situation, Stretch said: “It’s a function of what happens when partners lose their practices.”
After Gadens learnt, along with national counterpart Deacons, that the firm had been cut from the then eight-firm panel in May, Stretch said efforts were made to “redeploy” people to other practices.
“We’ve redeployed just about all of them [formerly on the VWA team],” he said. “At the end of the day, after cleaning everything up in an orderly fashion, we’re left with these three equity partners.”
All possible measures, including re-skilling in other practices, were explored to allow the insurance trio to stay on, Stretch said.
Asked if the partners had in fact parted ways, he answered: “I don’t think they’ve gone anywhere yet. We’re still in negotiations, nothing is set in concrete.
“You never say never. All have been made offers to stay.”
Despite Stretch’s optimism, subsequent investigations by Lawyers Weekly discovered that neither Tulloch, Cavanagh nor Provis’ names appeared under the firm’s list of Melbourne-based partners on its official website.
Commenting soon after May’s dumping, CEO Grant Dixon was then confident all partners would be redeployed “to other areas within the office’s insurance group” (see Lawyers Weekly, 30 May 2003, page 1).
Stretch confirmed private sector insurance work was still being carried out in Melbourne.
On a brighter note, the office recently learnt it would welcome a new partner to its commercial banking practice next year.
Blake Dawson Waldron partner John Carmel will move to Gadens on 1 March 2004, to link with existing banking head Simon Wallace and serve the likes of ANZ, Westpac and Macquarie Bank.
Stretch said a mandatory six-month notice period for Blakes’ partners accounted for the delay between recruitment and commencement of the firm’s latest lateral hire.