Slater and Gordon Lawyers
|Public law firm|
|Traded as||ASX: SGH|
|Founder||Bill Slater and Hugh Gordon|
London, United Kingdom (sub-headquarters)
(Group Managing Director)
(Managing Director - UK and Europe)
(Head of Australia)
|Revenue||A$521.8m (2014/15) |
Number of employees
Slater and Gordon is a multinational law firm headquartered in Australia employing over 2,500 people worldwide. In 2007, Slater and Gordon became the first law firm in the world to go public. The firm is Australia's largest consumer law firm by total revenue. In 2012, Slater and Gordon entered the UK market with the acquisition of several UK based law firms, and has since become one of the UK's largest consumer law firms. In 2014 the firm was ranked as the 7th largest international law firm operating in the UK by revenue. In 2014, the firm's UK revenue exceeded £100 million for the first time, with a reported 119% increase on the previous year's turnover. The firm was founded in Melbourne, Victoria in 1935 by a barrister and solicitor from Irymple, Victoria, Hugh Lyons Gordon, and Labor politician Bill Slater.
On 20 March 2015, Slater & Gordon announced the acquisition of the professional services division of Quindell for £637m. The acquisition of Quindell’s professional services division was said to increase its market share of UK personal injury law to about 12 percent from the current 5 percent, making the firm the largest law firm in the country with respect to personal injury. The deal was, however, highly controversial, Quindell being seen as a "basket case" at the time, and many commentators questioned the wisdom of the acquisition, and the price paid.
Bill Slater was born to parents of an Irish background in Wangaratta on 20 May 1890. When Slater was a child his father left the family, leaving his mother to raise him and his two siblings in Prahran. Slater attended Armadale State School but left to sell newspapers. An incident in which he was caught skinny dipping in the Yarra River led to a brief period of self-reflection. During this period, Slater chose to better himself and began reading vigorously at a public library in an attempt at self-education. His endeavour was successful and he was eventually hired as an office boy, later being employed as a clerk for Percy Park, a Mildura solicitor. After various misadventures, including an arrest for support of John Curtin, relocations to and from England and Australia, Slater entered partnership with Hugh Gordon—his brother in law—forming Slater & Gordon.
Hugh Lyons Gordon, born to David Ferguson Gordon and Mary Gordon, was a barrister and solicitor from Irymple in country Victoria, who, in 1935, along with his brother-in-law, Bill Slater, founded the law firm Slater and Gordon.
In September 1941, during World War II whilst in Melbourne, Gordon enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. After training as an Observer, he became a Flying Officer (Navigator). He was sent to England where he was subsequently posted to 460 (Australian) Squadron who by this time were flying the Avro Lancaster bomber.
Gordon was killed on 15 June 1943 when the Lancaster he crewed was shot down by Luftwaffe flying ace Manfred Meurer. Two men escaped the crash to become POWs; the remaining five, including Gordon, are buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Gelderland, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Gordon was 34 years old when he was killed, he was married to Elspeth Campbell Gordon, from Ulonga, New South Wales
Over the years Slater and Gordon has handled some of the most complex and widely publicised cases in Australia. These include representing hundreds of asbestos miners at the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia. In 1994 and 2000, the company lodged writs in the Victorian Supreme Court against BHP on behalf of traditional owners in Papua New Guinea over the Ok Tedi Mine's environmental impacts on the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers stemming from the abandonment of the Lukwi Tailings dam (after a major landslide on 7 January 1984). Other cases include representing victims of medically acquired HIV from contaminated blood supplies, and women suffering health problems due to faulty IUDs and breast implants.
In December 2005, the firm negotiated a settlement with James Hardie worth $4.5 billion on behalf of unions and people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases as a result of exposure to asbestos while working for the company.
Slater & Gordon UK
Slater & Gordon entered the UK market in 2012 with the acquisition of UK law firm Russell Jones and Walker. The firm has completed further acquisitions of a number of other law firms within the UK to become one of the largest personal law firms based in the UK. The acquisitions have included: Fentons, Goodmans Law, Taylor Vinters, John Pickering and Partners, Pannone and most recently, Leo Abse & Cohen and Walker Smith Way. The UK based practice areas can be divided into two distinct categories: personal legal services and business legal services. The largest practice areas in the personal legal services division includes personal injury, clinical and medical negligence, employment, divorce and family and group and specialist litigation. The business legal services division includes regulatory law and defence, employment and general business advisory. Additionally, the firm represents the Police Federation of England and Wales and specialises in police law. It also has a number of specialist practice groups including media, libel and privacy. The firm is the largest provider of family law services in the UK. It also has a 14% share of the personal injury and clinical negligence market, making it the leader in its field by some margin. The firm is now actively considering closing two of its offices and appears to about to embark on retrenching its UK operations. At the time of the Quindell acquisition, for $1.3 billion, many commentators doubted the wisdom of the transaction, doubts that have seem to have been justified as Slater and Gordon unveiled huge losses at the end of February 2016.
Slater & Gordon Australia
The firm remains the largest consumer law firm in Australia. It has maintained its position with the acquisition of numerous other firms including: Reid & Reid Solicitors, Maurice May Lawyers, Gary Robb & Associates, Geoffrey Edwards & Co, Paul Keady & Associates, Blessington Judd and Richards Lawyers in 2003. More recently Slater & Gordon has merged with D'Arcys Solicitors, McClellands Lawyers, Secombs Solicitors, John Micallef & Co, McGlades Personal Injury Law, Long Howland Lawyers, Kenyons Lawyers, Stewart & Noble Lawyers, Adams Leyland Lawyers, Conveyancing Works (Queensland), Bussoletti (Wollongong), Trilby Misso Lawyers & Keddies Lawyers.
The board of directors at Slater and Gordon Limited comprises: non-executive director Erica Lane, managing director Andrew Grech, executive director Ken Fowlie and non-executive director Ian Court. Trading in the company's shares was suspended during the last week of February 2016 pending the announcement of financial results revealing losses of approximately AU$1 billion, though a large part of the loss related to the writing down of Quindell assets, the company is making trading losses in both the UK and Australia.
Notable past employees
- Julia Gillard, the 27th Prime Minister of Australia was an industrial lawyer from 1986 to 1995 and became a partner.
- Jonathan Rothfield, a former managing partner (he became a partner in 1971) who saved the firm from financial ruin at a time of crisis for the business. On 24 December 1985, Rothfield assumed sole ownership of Slater and Gordon when the firm was on the verge of collapse, and for a four-year period worked and succeeded in stabilising the firm and returned it to profit. Rothfield personally bore much of the financial burden to keep the business afloat, even mortgaging his own home. Former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, commented on Rothfield in an interview when she said, "I also learnt a great deal from Jonathan Rothfield who was the sole owner of Slater and Gordon. He’s a man who is very hard-working and a very ordered thinker".
- Peter Gordon, current president of the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League.
- Adam Bandt, the first Australian Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives and the party's deputy leader was a solicitor and partner with the firm from 1997 to 2008.
- Rob Stary, criminal defence lawyer, known for defending Julian Assange and Jack Thomas
- "Slater and Gordon Group FY15 Full Year Financial Results" (PDF). ASX. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "The Firm". SlaterGordon.com.au. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
- "Slater and Gordon confirms another UK acquisition". www.lawgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "UK 200 International: a looming challenge". www.thelawyer.co.uk. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "Slater & Gordon UK doubles revenue to £101m for 2013/14 year". www.thelawyer.com. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Financial Times: Slater & Gordon were sold a pup, watch this space…
- The Daily telegraph: Slater & Gordon faces class action suit over Quindell division purchase
- "460 SQUADRON RAAF, WORLD WAR 2 FATALITIES – 15 June 1943" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Casualty details: GORDON, HUGH LYONS". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "World's first listed law firm takes over UK's Russell Jones & Walker". legalweek.com. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- The Law Gazette: Slater and Gordon plans 51 job cuts
- Garamfalvi, Alexia (22 May 2007). "In a First, Law Firm Goes Public". The Legal Times. Retrieved 2008-10-20. (subscription required (. ))
- "History - Slater and Gordon". SlaterGordon. Slater and Gordon. 1985. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "The Slater & Gordon story - access to social justice for all". Your Life Choices. Indigo Arch Publishing. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "Rise to the top". Young Lawyers. Law Institute Victoria. n.d. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "ADAM BANDT, GREENS MP FOR MELBOURNE". ABC Local. ABC. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Michael Cannon, That Disreputable Firm: the Inside Story of Slater & Gordon, Melbourne University Press, Carlton South Victoria ISBN 0-522-84787-0