In a candid discussion Blake Dawson Waldron CEO John Atkin admitted that Blakes’ involvement with HIH insolvency was a great challenge for the firm and for him, in the first few months of his time there.
“We clearly needed to address the issues — both in relation to receipt of the moneys and the Charles Abbott consultancy,” he said. “We sought to do this as honestly and openly as we could at the time.”
Atkin admitted the firm had made errors and that it was important that staff reflected on what happened so that similar mistakes don’t occur again.
In other discussions, Atkin was supportive of external regulation of the legal industry, in notable contrast to his counterparts at Minter Ellison, Freehills and Allens Arthur Robinson.
“I think self-regulation isn’t practical,” Atkin said, citing the increased diversity of the profession as the primary reason. “I think it’s a bit of an ask for the legal profession to ask for self-regulation.”
Atkin also commented on the changing legal market, speculating that the reason for the decline in staff turnover was as a result of opportunities drying up in New York and London. He said, of Blakes’ strategy of dealing with external market constraints: “We’ve probably been less aggressive about replacing people who leave.”
The full Lawyers Weekly interview with John Atkin, as part of the ‘View from the top’ series of interviews with top-tier CEOs, is on page 18.