Mills Oakley launches new practice with HSF hire

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Mills Oakley has recruited a long-time Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner to launch a new national practice.

Harold Downes has commenced as a partner of the firm, where he is now leading the workplace health and safety (WHS) practice. The hire brings an important new dimension to workplace relations group, of which the new practice is a sub-team, said Mills Oakley CEO John Nerurker.

“Workplace health and safety are critical elements of any business and particularly in labour-intensive sectors,” he said. “Harold’s expertise is a natural fit not just for our workplace relations team, but for our entire firm.”

The launch of the WHS practice comes after Mills Oakley launched a family law practice in Canberra with the appointment of seasoned lawyer Andrea Evans as partner. The firm’s expansion also included an investment in automated conveyancing last month.

Formerly the head of HSF’s safety practice in Australia, Downes was a partner of the global firm since 2004. His extensive experience includes advising on front-end governance, training and safety, back-end regulatory enforcement, WHS litigation, crisis management, and incidence response.

Downes said that WHS is a logical growth area for Mills Oakley.

“Mills Oakley has a strong reputation across a number of key labour-intensive sectors including property, construction, infrastructure and banking. I look forward to supporting our clients in their commitment to health, wellbeing and safety. This aspect of business has become increasingly sophisticated in the last few years and I hope to bring some pragmatic solutions in this area,” he said.