Sydney, Australia

 

U.K. firm HFW will launch an employment practice in Australia with an eight-lawyer team from Dentons.

Partners Mark Sant and Brendan Milne lead a team that advises on a range of employment and industrial relations matters, from human resources strategies to employment agreement negotiations and workplace dispute resolution. The new team, which also includes two special counsel and four associates, starts at HFW’s Sydney and Melbourne offices on Jan. 21.

Sant currently heads up Dentons’ national employment and safety practice from Sydney. A specialist in collective bargaining, discrimination and diversity law matters, Sant joined Dentons from Gadens in late 2016 when the Australian firm’s Sydney office combined with Dentons. At Gadens, he led the national workplace relationships practice. He moved to Gadens in 2005 from Clayton Utz. Earlier in his career, he practiced with legacy Blake Dawson.

Melbourne-based Milne specializes in employment law-related compliance and contentious work. He joined Dentons as a director in 2017 from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Australia’s employment law regime went through several changes in 2018, including amendments in protection for whistleblowers, family and domestic violence leave, and flexible working arrangements.

And more changes are expected in 2019, according to Sant. “The Australian Labor Party, if elected later this year, will make changes to industrial relations laws to give unions and employees more options to address this very significant issue,” he said. “We are expecting a surge in demand for our industrial relations expertise in light of the union movement’s focus on addressing long-term wage stagnation.”

HFW opened its first Australian office in 2006 in Melbourne; the firm later added offices in Sydney and Perth. It now has more than 90 lawyers, including 24 partners, across three offices.