It was 1995 and a young man bought up by two school teachers in Kiama NSW began his legal career as an articled clerk in the Footscray offices of Slater and Gordon.
20 years later he would be the CEO of our law firm.
Ken Fowlie, a family man passionate about his footy and a keen observer of politics, a fair go and progressive values recently celebrated 20 years at Slater and Gordon.
So many of the values that have guided his journey from our Footscray office to the head of our Australian business are closely aligned to the values of the business he helped establish.
Ken reflects on his time at Slater and Gordon and says that dealing with clients at vulnerable times of their lives felt like the right thing to do; they were emotional and challenged about the situations they were in and I was in a position to help.
“From the beginning I felt a connection to the work at Slaters and an affinity to the people who shared my perspective on life, those first experiences still stay with me today.”
After just six month of being admitted to practise and a stint in Footscray, Ken put his hand up to relocate to Sydney to head up our practice there. At the time, the fledgling Sydney practice comprised just two staff servicing a small clientele but under Ken’s guidance during the past 20 years the firm’s presence in the state has grown significantly organically and through acquisitions.
The launch of the Wallis Lake Oyster Contamination Class Action in 1997 was a turning point for Ken and a boon for the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Sydney office. It set the practice on the path to pursuing further class actions, while simultaneously building our compensation practices.
Slater and Gordon has since become a major player in the class action and major litigation industry and under Ken’s leadership the firm has had and is still having great success in obtaining compensation on behalf of our clients, particularly in shareholder and financial class actions such as those relating to Centro, Oz Minerals and Storm Financial.
In 2012 Ken took a leave of absence to study an MBA in London as well as to advise on the integration of newly acquired UK firm RJW into the Slater and Gordon group. He is grateful to the firm for offering this unique experience which he says has shaped the views he holds today about being an effective leader and what makes an organisation successful.
"During my stint in the UK I was able to step back and see things from a fresh perspective. I learned a lot about myself, what my strengths and weaknesses are and how I could do things differently," he says. "I learned the importance of investing in people, developing clear organisational values as well as making clear the direction we are heading in. These are important lessons I apply today as CEO of our Australian business.
"One of the things I like about this firm is that we put a premium on honest and forthright communication where everyone has a voice. It’s a genuine meritocracy and a place where good ideas get encouraged.
"For someone who has been here for 20 years, I believe we have always stayed true to our core values. The organisation will evolve, the challenges will be different and how we face those challenges will be different but I strongly believe that the flame still burns as it did in 1995 and as how I imagined it did in 1935."