NZ practice bought out by large Aussie firm

In an unprecedented move, a large, publicly-listed Australian firm – to which Erin Brockovich has lent her support – is taking over an Auckland-based practice.

As of Tuesday next week, a North Shore practice will bear the signs of one of Australia’s largest compensation law firms.

In an unprecedented move, the practice of insurance litigation specialist Andrew Hooker – a specialist plaintiffs’ firm – has been purchased by publicly-listed Australian firm Shine Lawyers.

Shine would bring with them “huge resources and huge areas of expertise” into the New Zealand market, Hooker told NZLawyer.
He first met leaders from Shine after the Canterbury earthquake.

“I do a lot of work in Christchurch following the earthquakes because I’m an insurance specialist and one of the few that specialise in acting for insureds rather than insurers.

“So as soon as the earthquake happened I was down there. It was just horrible, absolutely horrible. I hated it; it was just so depressing and so sad.”

While down there, Hooker bumped into Stephen Roche, one of the founders and directors of Shine.

“Obviously people who were working in Christchurch from overseas wanted to know who their local experts were, and so they came across me.

“Stephen’s an amazing guy. He and Simon Morrison head up Shine in Australia. It was pretty obvious when I met with Stephen that we just shared the same values. They [Shine] are like me, but on steroids. They’re massive – a publicly listed company.

“We just got talking and one thing led to another and Shine said they were keen to get into the New Zealand market, and they were looking for a firm that they could work with, and my firm fitted their culture really well. It really is a cultural thing.”

As an aside, Andrew also met lawyers from Chicago law firm Childress Duffy, who had a professional relationship, of sorts, with Shine.

While the Christchurch earthquake was where Andrew met Shine, it was not Shine’s story in New Zealand, he said.

“The Shine story in New Zealand is about taking a specialist plaintiff law firm to the next level in this country.” 

“There are very few specialist plaintiff law firms in New Zealand – probably three or four.

“Overseas, specialist plaintiff law firms are very common, and I think the difference is, of course, that we don’t have personal injury. So there’s not as much work for specialist plaintiffs.”
Shine’s New Zealand practice would specialise in suing insurance companies, and plaintiffs’ professional negligence claims in the cases of lawyers, accountants, valuers, real estate agents and engineers, Hooker said.

The practice will still have him at the helm.

“Having the strength of Shine behind us, we can start specialising in that sort of work. 

“I just love fighting for the underdog. It’s just something about my personality – I just love it.”

Erin Brockovich is an ambassador for Shine Lawyers and has been working alongside the firm since 2007. Earlier this year Brockovich gave presentations across Australia, in association with Shine. 

Hooker is also well-known in his own right, having worked extensively in insurance law. He also spearheads the New Zealand representative action against bank fees – called Fair Play on Fees

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