Mills Oakley’s most tenured partner rides off into the sunset

Roger Jepson is "one of the true gentlemen of the legal profession," the firm says

Mills Oakley’s most tenured partner rides off into the sunset
Roger Jepson

Mills Oakley’s most tenured partner has announced his retirement just in time for the holidays.

Roger Jepson says farewell to the firm at the end of December. Over his 31-year stint, he has served in a variety of roles, including chairman, board director, risk management committee member and general counsel.

Mills Oakley referred to Jepson as “a senior statesman of the firm and one of the true gentlemen of the legal profession.”

“I have always said the ambition of every Mills Oakley partner should be to leave a legacy. We should all aim to leave the firm in a better place than when we arrived. If there was ever an example to follow, it is Roger,” CEO John Nerurker said.

Nerurker highlighted Jepson’s integral role as the firm expanded from “a mid-size Melbourne partnership to a leading national law firm.”

“Throughout that time, Roger has been our rock. He’s been our voice of reason, our moral compass and the person that commands our attention in times of unrest. He has helped to build Mills Oakley to the firm we are today,” Nerurker said.

Jepson said that it was “satisfying” to depart the firm on the heels of such a positive run.

“Mills Oakley has gone from strength to strength in my time here. I’ve witnessed many milestones – the opening of new offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth. We hired our 100th partner and crossed the $200m revenue mark,” he said. “But through all that, the firm’s commitment to integrity and working collaboratively in our clients’ best interests has never wavered. It is a special place to be.”

He looked back on the significant changes in tech and gender equality he has observed throughout his lengthy career.

“When I started with Mills Oakley in the 80s, we were carrying ‘portable’ telephones the size and weight of a house brick. Fax was the cutting-edge technology and when the first electronic typewriters came in, we all gathered around to witness the marvel of seeing words appearing on a screen,” Jepson said.

Nonetheless, he pointed out that the lack of email meant work-life balance was better than it is today.

“There was no email back then, so you had to get your work done by the last mail run,” Jepson said. “You were generally done and out the door by 6pm and that was standard across the profession, even at the largest firms.”

Although advancements in tech had their pros and cons, the progress in gender equality was something Jepson wholeheartedly praised.

“It is pleasing to see that diversity has become a key topic in our professional discourse. One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been overseeing the progression of Mills Oakley’s first ‘home grown’ female partners,” he said. “Particularly in my own area, insolvency and commercial litigation, we have women who commenced as clerks and graduates and are now supervising multimillion-dollar practices.”

Following his retirement, Jepson will be focusing on time with his grandchildren, as well as building on his interests in cycling and sailing.

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