A former Keddies partner has told Lawyers Weekly he will shake off the negative publicity that has plagued the now-defunct Sydney firm as he embarks on a career at the Bar.
Scott Roulstone has joined Ada Evans Chambers in Sydney and is specialising in personal injury and insurance law.
He said he has long held an ambition to become a barrister.
On January 23, the NSW Supreme Court granted Roulstone an interim practising certificate. The decision comes six months after he submitted an application requesting admission to the Bar.
The NSW Bar Association handballed Roulstone’s application, made in June 2014, to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner when it failed to make a decision within the required timeframe.
Frustrated by the delays, Roulstone lodged a summons in the Supreme Court and his matter was heard on January 19.
The interim certificate is valid until June unless the outcome of a long-running civil matter involving Stephen Firth, head of Sydney firm Firths, points to wrongdoing on the part of Roulstone.
Late in 2011, Firth accused Roulstone of breaching an injunction that prohibited Keddies and its agents from contacting former clients who had made overcharging complaints against the firm. Firths was handling around 100 claims against Keddies at the time.
Former Keddies principal Russell Keddie was struck off the legal roll in 2012 for overcharging clients.
Two months later, Keddie, Roulstone and fellow Keddies partner Tony Barakat declared bankruptcy after repaying millions to former clients.
Since then, 84 out of 85 complaints have been dismissed and the Law Society of NSW lifted its suspension on the practising certificates of Roulstone and Barakat.
But Roulstone claimed that “disappointing” press coverage of the unfolding events overshadowed these positive outcomes.
“Keddies had been unfairly subjected to negative publicity … over many years,” he said.
While his public profile may have taken a beating, Roulstone is confident that his reputation among lawyers remains strong and will serve him well at the Bar.
“I am certainly relying on that reputation to proceed in the future with my career,” he added.
Slater & Gordon acquired Keddies for $30 million in 2011. Roulstone moved across to Slaters, where he was a managing principal who helped integrate the two firms.