News

Lander & Rogers launches workplace relations and safety practice in Queensland

Workplace Relations & Safety

Lander & Rogers has announced the appointment of two senior lawyers to drive the growth of the firm's workplace relations and safety (WR&S) practice on the ground in Queensland – a service previously delivered out of Sydney and Melbourne.

Vince Rogers and Shannon Chapman join Lander & Rogers as Partner and Special Counsel, respectively. Vince is a former Partner at multinational law firm Ashurst where he worked both in Melbourne and Brisbane. His former practice covered all aspects of employment, discrimination and safety. Vince has played a significant role supporting clients with the changes to private sector whistleblower laws, including advice on how to manage and respond to a complex protected disclosure as well as the conduct of one of the first cases in the Federal Court.

Shannon, an experienced lawyer with more than 15 years' experience, also joins from Ashurst where she commenced her career as a commercial litigator before moving into employment law.

When asked about the move to an Australian-based firm the pair agreed both capability and culture played a significant part in their respective decisions. "Lander & Rogers is well-credentialed and recognised as a national leader in workplace relations and safety. The switch to an Australian-based firm provides greater opportunity to support the firm's overall success and contribute to change in our industry," said Vince.

"Lander & Rogers not only walks the walk but is charting the course ahead for the profession – specifically, through its work on programs to address diversity, including gender inequality, and its focus on innovation and technology," said Shannon, who refers to the firm comprising 43% female partners.

Commenting on the appointment, WR&S practice lead Daniel Proietto said, "Vince joins us from an international firm where he has developed a strong workplace relations and safety practice working with many of our mutual clients. Both Vince and Shannon are experienced employment lawyers and understand the particular needs and challenges of our market."

While already considered one of the leading national WR&S practices in Australia, the establishment of a local presence in Lander & Rogers' existing Brisbane office caters to the growing number of workplace relations and safety clients in the state, while also complementing existing legal offerings.

Vince and Shannon join Lander & Rogers at a time when demand for strategic legal advice has never been greater. Clients continue to adapt to the new workforce arrangements brought about by the pandemic, and changes in legislation and the regulatory environment are placing increased pressure on even the most sophisticated businesses. The shift to remote working raises questions about workplace culture and how businesses will operate in a post-COVID world. For a number of industries, the full effects of COVID-19 may not be felt for some time.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said Daniel. "An increased number of employers are seeking legal guidance on disciplinary and dismissal processes in the event decisions are challenged. Additional workforce restructuring is also highly likely."

Shannon noted there is growing concern from employees regarding job security. "Job scarcity in some sectors and industries means many employees will be more prepared to fight to keep their jobs, pursuing legal avenues where necessary. We saw this happen during the GFC."

According to Shannon, who has diverse experience across sectors, jurisdictions and legal expertise, COVID-19 has confirmed the ability of many businesses to operate successfully with a remote workforce. "In many cases, employers may need to reassess whether they can require their people to work from the office full time. There will be an adjustment phase over the next 12 or so months as enterprise agreements and modern award frameworks that do not provide for more flexible working arrangements are tested and reassessed," claimed Shannon.

As part of planned industrial relations reforms to remove barriers to Australia's economic recovery from COVID-19, the Industrial Relations Minister's working groups could lead to further legislative change. But, while some COVID-19 related changes to awards are temporary, other changes are here to stay with local and federal industrial relations and employment frameworks becoming increasingly regulated and complex.

News of the launch in Queensland follows the appointment of former-Deloitte Legal partner and Victorian Bar CEO, Sarah Fregon, in the firm's Commercial Disputes practice last month.

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