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Firm hires as clients call for specialists

A Melbourne-based law firm has made four new appointments in what it says is a result of increased demand for its specialist areas of practice.

user iconBiwa Kwan 15 September 2009 The Bar
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A Melbourne-based law firm has made four new appointments in what it says is a result of increased demand for its specialist areas of practice. 


Russell Kennedy made the new hires across its immigration, commercial litigation, workplace and construction teams. 



The move comes as many firms are being forced to cut numbers, make redundancies and implement pay freezes. 


The announcement follows the four senior appointments made in July, including one partner, one special counsel and two senior associates.


Russell Kennedy managing director, Paul Gleeson, said the appointments also reflected the firm’s strategy to sharpen its specialist focus over the past decade. 


“We still provide full range of commercial services, but over the past few years we’ve become a firm that has areas of specialisation in particular industries,” said Gleeson.


“That is where the majority of our growth is coming from and our strategy is to continue to build on that growth in tough times when it is difficult to be a generalist.”


Growth in the areas of government-related work, litigious work, health and aged care is countering the flat-line activity in the banking and property sectors, said Gleeson. 


“We’ve got in some of these areas double digit growth and we expect that continue for the next couple of years at least.”


Suede Stanton-Drudy, a former junior partner at UK-based De Mallet Morgan Solicitors, has bolstered the immigration practice to four lawyers and four law clerks. 


Matthew Kandelaars and workplace lawyer Melissa Gundrill have recently come from top tier law firms Blake Dawson and Clayton Utz respectively, while University of Melbourne planning and design graduate Brett Samuel is the new addition to the firm’s insolvency and building and construction team. 


Gleeson said the firm had not made staff redundant, but had lost a few older staff members through attrition. 


“None of these people are replacing anyone else. They’re all new hires, so they’re all adding to the count and they’re all being employed in response to the demand that already is there.”


The firm expects to retain its seven graduate trainees this year in addition to making one or two more hires in the practice areas experiencing growth, said Gleeson. 


“Ultimately most growth in the firm has been organic growth, has been home grown, and continues to be that way. We continually hire, we continually look to meet the demands we’ve got.”