Three partners jump ship to national firm

Three new partners have been added to the transport practice of a major national firm in a strategic move to broaden the firm’s existing practice

National law firm Holding Redlich has laterally hired three new partners for its transport practice group in a strategic move that will see the team focus on maritime, logistics, road transport, rail and aviation.

The new partners are Geoff Farnworth who has come from M+K Lawyers, Nathan Cecil from Norton White and Danella Wilmshurst from HWL Ebsworth.

They will add to the existing transport practice group comprised of partners Jeremy Loeliger, Suzy Cairney and Jeremy Prentice.

New partner Wilmshurst told Australasian Lawyer that adding to the transport team is a long-term focus for Holding Redlich, especially given that transport is an industry where there will always be a certain level of activity, she says.

She “fell into” shipping and logistics after the first graduation position she was interviewed for was for a maritime lawyer at Norton Smith & Co.

“It was a happy coincidence because it was a subject area that I actually liked best,” Wilmshurst tells Australasian Lawyer. “I also had an uncle who was a seafarer from when he was about 16 and he always liked the international aspect of what he did. It was an aspect that I picked up through his work… I just like big ships!”

Since then, the partner has been involved in a multitude of high profile, challenging and sometimes bizarre cases.

A more recent one was the mortgagee arrest of the Chinese-owned ship the Hai Shi, where Wilmshurst was acting for the bank.

The boat had been left uninsured by the owners and anchored off the Queensland coast for nearly four months. The problem was, it was uncomfortably close to the Great Barrier Reef, and it was cyclone season.
“We all started watching all the meteorological reports,” she says.  “During that period we also had crew that hadn’t been paid on board who were all Chinese nationals. We had to work very closely with the court which technically has custody of the ship.”

Wilmshurst says she wanted to bring her expertise over to Holding Redlich because she was attracted to the fact that it’s an independent Australian national firm.

In many other firms nowadays, the shipping capability is linked to international practices, she says.

“The other thing that particularly appealed is that the three of us were effectively self-selected. We all independently said we wanted to work with each other, and that’s quite unusual. So basically I get to work in a firm I like and suits the work I do, and I get to do it with two people that I’ve noted have a similar approach.”

Holding Redlich’s national managing partner Chris Lovell says Wilmshurst, Farnsworth and Cecil all bring invaluable skills that help round out the firm’s transport practice.

“Their appointment is a strategic move to broaden and deepen our existing practice serving the transport industry,” he says.

According to figures from the Australian Logistics Council, transport and logistics represents 8.6% of GDP. It contributes $130 billion to the economy and employs 1.2 million people.

Photos: L - Danella Wilmshurst, M - Nathan Cecil, R - Geoff Farnsworth

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