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27 April 2021

Gadens adds DWF employment and disputes team in Melbourne

The move follows DWF scaling back its Australian presence with office closures and partner cuts

By Madeline Anderson

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Independent Australian law firm Gadens has added an 8-lawyer team from DWF in Melbourne, the latest set of departures following the UK firm’s decision to cut down its Australian workforce. 

The team is led by employment partner George Haroswith senior associates Michael Harty and William Marshall, associates Alana Berney, Laura Italiano and Sarah Saliba and lawyers Grant Klemm and Sara Demetrios accompanying him to Gadens. They will be joined by legal assistants Angela Gamage and Kristen Dyer, according an announcemenfrom the firm on Tuesday. 

Haros team focuses on employment, industrial relations and commercial disputes. It has racked up a wealth of experience advising major corporates, senior executives and elite sportspersons in employment and litigation matters, and is often called upon where reputation protection is a key focus. 

Haros is leaving DWF after less than a year with the UK-based firm, having joined from Australian commercial outfit Macpherson Kelley last May

Mark Pistilli, CEO of Gadens, said the appointment of the DWF team is an “integral” aspect of the firm’s growth strategy as it looks to add experienced professionals to its ranks in order to serve areas of “rising importance” for its client base. 

People are critically important to corporates, and we are seeing employment issues being discussed in boardrooms around the country,” he said. “We want to be part of those discussions even more broadly than we currently are. We are committed to growing our expertise in this area of law, and securing a large team of this calibre really bolsters our employment and disputes credentials

Commenting on the move, Haros said the local firm is a “great fit” for his team as they join Gadens’ expanding employment bench. 

“Having access to the skills and support of a full-service firm that operates across a range of industry sectors will be of enormous benefit to us, and will allow us to work with the existing teams at Gadens to grow the practice in Australia,” he said in a statement. 

DWF’s decision to cut the majority of its Australian partners has already led to a wave of moves away from the firm, including planning and environment partner Andrea Towson leaving DWF for Gadens last month.  

In March, DWF closed its offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle at the expected loss of nearly 100 jobs, representing a major strategy shift for the firm which expanded rapidly in Australia after launching in 2017. 

The firm also shuttered its outposts in Brussels and Singapore last June as part of a wider string of cost-cutting measures implemented by new firm head Sir Nigel Knowles, who stepped into a leadership role following the ousting of former CEO Andrew Leaitherland in May 2020. 

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