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March 1935 - Slater and Gordon is founded
In a small room in the Australian Railway Union’s Unity Hall Building on Bourke Street in Melbourne, William (Bill) Slater and Hugh Gordon founded Slater and Gordon to service unions, particularly in workplace entitlements and claims. The heritage listed Unity Building is now a hotel, but the original façade and entrance hall mosaic remains.
March 1941 - Hugh Gordon enlists in the RAAF
Hugh Gordon enlists to fight in the Second World War, joining the No. 460 squadron RAAF as part of the Pathfinder squadron flying Lancaster aircraft.
October 12, 1942 - William Slater is appointed Australia’s first Minister to Russia
At the height of the Second World War, the Curtin Government appointed Bill Slater as Australia’s first ambassador to Russia. Bill moved to the relocated Russian wartime capital of Kuybyshev (now Samara), and was in the role for a little over a year before the cold Russian winter got the better of Bill’s poor health.
October 28, 1942 - Ted Hill rejoins the firm, and the firm’s name is changed to Slater, Gordon and Hill
After working for the firm briefly in the late 1930s, Ted Hill rejoined the firm to manage its operation while Bill Slater was overseas.
October 1942 - Hiring women and paying clerks
Slater, Gordon and Hill began offering articled clerkships to women and also began paying clerks, rather than demanding a training premium.
June 14, 1943 - Hugh Gordon is killed in action, aged 34
On his 30th and final mission before he was due to be transferred back to Australia, Hugh’s aircraft encountered a German night fighter. The plane was shot down, with the loss of three men on board, including Hugh Gordon. Hugh was buried at Jonkerbos Cemetery, near Nijmegen, Holland. The name ‘Slater and Gordon’ has been retained to this day in Hugh’s memory.
November 19, 1945 - Bill Slater becomes Victorian Attorney General for the second time
Bill Slater is appointed Victorian Attorney General and Solicitor General, serving in the role until 1947. A revered Labor politician, Bill served in Parliament from November 1917 to April 1932; July 1932 to October 1947, and June 1949 to June 1960. Bill would also serve as Attorney General and Solicitor General again between 1952 and 1955. (Image circa 1945-52, courtesy of State Library of Victoria [SLV])
April 1946 - Victorian Workers Compensation Act and Employers and Employees Bill Introduced
As Attorney General Bill Slater introduced an act in Parliament to improve the rights of Victorian workers. The Bill lead to pioneering legal work being done by Slater and Gordon on behalf of previously unprotected workers whose welfare and health were affected. This included workers from the Wonthaggi colliery.
February, 1946 - Geoffrey Llewellyn Jones joins the firm as a staff solicitor
Geoff Jones joins the firm, staying at Slater and Gordon for 38 years. In 1948 he would become general manager of the firm.
April 1948 - Ted Hill leaves the firm
Ted Hill leaves firm to become secretary of the Victorian branch of the Communist Party. He would continue to be briefed by the firm as a barrister
November 1948 - Geoff Jones becomes secretary of the Firefighters Union
Juggling his work running the firm, Geoff began on improving the conditions of Victoria’s firefighters who at the time were paid poorly and on call up to 108 hours a week.
1952 - Bill Slater is appointed Attorney General under Premier John Cain Senior
Bill Slater is appointed to the position of Victoria’s Attorney General and Solicitor General
1956 - Bill Slater returns to Europe, and visits the grave of Hugh Gordon
Bill wrote in his diary of his sorrow, wondering “what he would have been today in the full bloom of manhood had he been spared the supreme sacrifice he had to make.”
1957 - Annual profit: £12,248
Now operating for almost 22 years, a return in 1957 shows the firm’s profits at just over £12,000 pounds was split between the partners.
1958 - Frank Vincent commences articles with the firm
Frank Vincent, who went on to enjoy a revered career as a barrister and judge, ruling in several high profile murder cases, started working for the firm.
June 19, 1960 - Bill Slater passes away
Bill died suddenly in 1960 while still a Victorian Member of Parliament. His family declined the offer of a State funeral, as Bill had asked for a private service ‘of the simplest character’. But the Victoria Police had other ideas. Remembering his role in the 1924 Police Strike Royal Commission, and later as the police union’s honorary solicitor, police blocked every intersection for 30 kilometres for his funeral procession. On his death, Labor Leader Clive Stoneham would say “He was intolerant of injustice, and was at all times a dauntless defender of civil liberties.” Conservative Liberal Premier Henry Bolte would label Bill a man of “sterling qualities”, and a “clean, straight shooter.”
1964 - Slater and Gordon wins landmark HMAS Voyager case
The family of Horace Jones, a 44 year old contract electrician on HMAS Voyager, is compensated following landmark legal action by Slater and Gordon.
1966 - Morwell Office opens
Following a spike in workplace claims in the Latrobe Valley, Slater and Gordon opens an office in Morwell.
November 1967 - Slater and Gordon takes the Dennis O'Donnell conscientious objection case
At the height of the Vietnam War, Slater and Gordon takes the (ultimately unsuccessful) case of student teacher and conscientious objector Dennis James O’Donnell, to the Privy Council.
1967 - Geoffrey Eames commences articles with the firm
Geoffrey Eames, who worked closely with Jim Hill (brother of Ted Hill) during his time at Slater and Gordon, went on to eventually become a Supreme Court justice.
1971 - The firm continues to grow with new partnership appointments
Michael Maplestone, William Rutherford, Jonathan Rothfield and later County Court Judge Michael Higgins are made partners. Herman Borestein would be made partner shortly following Jim Hill’s death in 1973.
1981 - Jennifer Lush made first female partner
After joining the firm as a staff solicitor in 1972, Jennifer Lush, the daughter of Supreme Court Judge Sir George Lush, was made Slater and Gordon’s first female partner.
1984 - Footscray office opened
The Footscray office went from strength to strength under the guidance of a young Peter Gordon.
June 30, 1984 - Geoff Jones Retires
After decades in the role of General Manager, Geoff Jones retires with the firm having grown to 125 staff and 10 partners.
September 1985 - Landmark Harold Plimer claim is won
December 24, 1985 - Jonathan Rothfield assumes control of Slater and Gordon after a tumultuous few years
On the verge of collapse, and enduring internal battles for control, partner Jonathan Rothfield assumed sole control of the business for a four year period to stabilise the firm. Jonathan bore much of the financial burden to keep the business afloat. It was against this backdrop of near ruin that Slater and Gordon would fight some of its toughest cases. In August 1986, Jonathan issued the following statement in a memo titled ‘Slater and Gordon Principles’: This firm is different to most. We aim to assist the underdog and provide legal services to the disadvantaged. To do this, we must be in business. To be in business, we must be profitable.
1986 - Sydney office opens
Slater and Gordon opened an office in Sydney to help deal with a classs action for approximately 3000 people. Advertising for the class action was also some of the first advertising undertaken by law firms in Australia.
1986 - Julia Gillard joins Slater and Gordon
Julia Gillard joined Slater and Gordon in 1986. She went on to become a partner, and then Australia’s first woman Prime Minister in 2010.
1986 - Perth office opened to accommodate Wittenoom cases
Following changes to the statute of limitations, Slater and Gordon rushes to launch a class action against CSR on behalf of people who lived and worked at the mining town Wittenoom. The Wittenoom mine in remote Western Australia was operated by CSR from 1943, and was staffed largely by migrant workers arriving from post war Europe. Of the 6700 people who worked at either of the two Wittenoom mines, an estimated 1000-3000 would die as a result of their employment at the mine.
February, 1987 - Geoff Shaw joins the firm
Geoff Shaw modernised the firm’s practices and procedures, changing the management structure of the firm and positioning the firm for future growth. He was instrumental in the creation of the “No Win No Fee” payment structure. Tragically Geoff passed away suddenly in December 1997.
February 1, 1988 - Ted Hill passes away
One time partner and prominent barrister Ted Hill passed away at the age of 72. On Ted’s death, The Age labelled him a “dogged warrior of the working class.”
May 23, 1988 - Landmark Klaus Rabenalt case is won
30 November, 1989 - Wittenoom class action cases settled
The final Wittenoom cases settled, with an $18.2 million payment to the remaining ex-employees
December 22, 1990 - Slater and Gordon conducted one of the world’s first HIV case
May, 1994 - BHP Ok Tedi class action is launched
From January 1984, tailings from BHP’s Ok Tedi gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea were fed directly into the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers, destroying the hunting and farming grounds and the livelihood of 40,000 villagers who lived in the area. Amid a protracted ‘PR’ battle, the brave villagers of the Ok Tedi basin were successful, and in 1996 BHP was forced to end the environmental destruction and compensate the villagers.
July, 1994 - No Win No Fee introduced
Slater and Gordon introduces the revolutionary No Win No Fee ™ legal fee structure.
July 7, 1996 - Peanut butter class action
October 13, 1998 - ‘That disreputable firm… the inside story of Slater and Gordon’ book is launched
Historian Michael Cannon’s detailed book accounting of the history of the firm is launched.
1998 - Brian Crimmins case is won in High Court
May 2001 - Dow Corning Settlement
April 12, 2002 - Rolah McCabe v Big Tobacco
In a first, Rolah McCabe is successful in suing the world’s second largest tobacco company, British American Tobacco. The decision is later overturned in the Victorian Court of Appeal.
2004 - James Hardie commission of inquiry
May 21, 2007 - Slater and Gordon becomes world’s first publicly listed law firm
Slater and Gordon took the bold move to list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), after ownership laws changed to allow people other than lawyers to own a law firm.
February 5, 2008 - Tim Lacone donates $200,000 to the Asbestos Research Fund
November 19, 2008 - Cranbourne gas leaks class action commences
Slater and Gordon launches a class action on behalf on behalf of hundreds of Cranbourne property owners in Victoria whose properties were affected by methane gas leaking from a nearby landfill site. The class action was settled in 2011.
2009 - Thalidomide
May, 2009 - Slater and Gordon offers social work services
Slater and Gordon becomes the first law firm in Australia to offer social work services to its clients.
September 2009 - Compensation for Australia’s first female commando
Slater and Gordon’s High Court victory for Australia’s first female commando was a decision that would benefit thousands of other veterans. Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Robyn Fellowes, whose 22 years in the army included service in Bougainville, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, was the subject of the successful test case.
2010 - Slater and Gordon celebrates 75 Years
Slater and Gordon celebrates 75 years, growing from its humble beginnings in a small room in the ARU building in 1935, to a national law firm and nearly 800 staff. The ‘True Believers’ documentary was also produced at the time in recognition of the significant milestone.
August 13, 2010 - Slater and Gordon Acquires Trilby Misso Lawyers
Slater and Gordon completes its biggest acquisition to date, acquiring south east Queensland based Trilby Misso Lawyers. The acquisition followed a number of smaller acquisitions.
January 11, 2011 - Slater and Gordon Acquires Keddies Lawyers
Following the acquisition of Trilby Misso Lawyers, Slater and Gordon completes the acquisition of leading New South Wales based law firm, Keddies Lawyers.
May 20, 2011 - Fincorp Collapse
The Federal Court of Australia approved a $29 million class action settlement in 2011 on behalf of more than 5000 investors who lost money when Fincorp Investments Limited collapsed in 2007.
July, 2011 - Oz Minerals class action is settled
The Federal Court of Australia approved a class action settlement in 2011 on behalf of more than 7500 individual participants who purchased shares in the minerals resources company, Oz Minerals, in 2008. The predominantly ‘mum and dad’ retail investors shared approximately $16 million in compensation.
July, 2011 - Storm Financial class action is settled
Slater and Gordon negotiated settlement outcomes for more than 1000 former clients of the collapsed financial planner Storm Financial. Retirees and pensioners were among those who were encouraged to sign up to large investment loans and margin loans despite limited assets and income.
September, 2011 - Fixed Fees for Family Law launched
In an innovative move, Slater and Gordon replaced billable hours with a fixed fee service for family law clients. Family law guide, Know Where You Stand was authored by Ian Shann and was launched by Justice Michael Kirby and Lisa Curry Kenny.
November, 2011 - Conveyancing Works acquired
Slater and Gordon acquired Queensland conveyancing firm Conveyancing Works, as the firm diversified outside traditional compensation services.
January, 2012 - London Calling: UK firm Russell Jones and Walker acquired
In its first move overseas, Slater and Gordon announced it would acquire UK Law firm Russell Jones and Walker. With similar backgrounds, RJW was the ideal partner to join with Slater and Gordon in the UK legal market.
February, 2012 – Fixed Fees for Family Law Launched in QLD, NSW and WA
Slater and Gordon’s successful fixed fee service for family law clients is expanded to Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
April, 2012 – Slater and Gordon supports changes to the Marriage Act
One of Australia’s leading family law experts, Heather McKinnon speaks out in support of proposed changes to the Marriage Act. The changes would remove the last significant piece of legislative discrimination against gay and lesbian members of the community.
April, 2012 – Acquisition of UK law firm Russell Jones and Walker complete
Slater and Gordon’s £53.8 million acquisition of UK law firm Russell Jones and Walker (RJW) was finalised following the approval of an Alternative Business Structures (ABS) licence by the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority.
May, 2012 – More Australian’s protected by a legal will
For the second year in a row, Slater and Gordon offered free online wills during National Law week, with more than 7,500 Australians protecting themselves with a will in 2012. Research shows nearly half of all Australian’s don’t have a will.
June, 2012 – Regional Queenslanders have access to national law firm
Slater and Gordon announces three visiting services to open in the offices of Conveyancing Works in Mackay, Rockhampton and Wide Bay in Queensland, making it easier for those communities to access Slater and Gordon’s wide range of legal services.
July, 2012 – Successful Conveyancing platform rolled out across Australia
Slater and Gordon announces its successful Queensland conveyancing platform will be rolled out nation-wide as the firm begins to offer conveyancing services to other states.
July, 2012 – Lynette Rowe’s case is settled
Australian woman Lynette Rowe settled her case for a multi-million dollar sum with the help of Gordon Legal and Slater and Gordon.
August, 2012 – Slater and Gordon expands its Tasmanian footprint
Slater and Gordon announced a merger between its Hobart office and well-known law firm Hilliard and Associates, consolidating its offices and offering more legal services to the people of Tasmania.
October, 2012 – Settlement reached in Sigma shareholder class action
A $57.5m agreement to settle a shareholder class action against Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd was reached following a court-ordered mediation, after a surprise full-year result announced by Sigma in March 2010 saw the company’s share price halve.
November, 2012 – Nufarm class action settlement approved
The Federal Court approved a $46.6 million class action settlement between agricultural company Nufarm and more than 3800 group members who registered to participate in the settlement. The claim was brought on behalf of Nufarm shareholders who acquired Nufarm shares in the period 28 September 2009 – 31 August 2010 and who suffered loss as a result of alleged breaches by Nufarm of its ASX reporting obligations in FY2010.
January, 2013 – Landmark victory against Victorian Government construction code
Victoria’s peak construction union – the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) - and Slater and Gordon Lawyers secures a landmark victory against the Victorian Government’s new construction industry code in the Federal Court after the government introduced new guidelines for builders seeking to work on publicly funded projects.
February, 2013 – Landmark fuel surcharge class action concludes
A world-first class action, that has changed the way international airlines pay commission to Australian travel agents, was finalised with the Federal Court approving a settlement with carrier Air New Zealand.
The class action was commenced in 2006 by Slater and Gordon on behalf of travel agents seeking to recover commission on fuel surcharges imposed by airlines on international airfares.
May, 2013 – Slater and Gordon plans to expand further in the UK
Slater and Gordon announces details of a $63 million equity raising to fund an accelerated UK expansion with plans to acquire three more law firms, increasing Slater and Gordon’s practice area diversification to more people in the UK.
May, 2013 – Thousands of GPT investors to share in $75 million in class action settlement
Thousands of shareholders who took on listed property trust GPT Management Holdings Limited and GPT RE Limited (GPT) in a class action will share in $75 million after a conditional settlement was reached.
Slater and Gordon had filed proceedings in the Federal Court in 2011 on behalf of 2300 investors who acquired stapled securities in GPT between February 27, 2008, and July 6, 2008, alleging the company had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and breached its continuous disclosure obligations.
June, 2013 – Slater and Gordon announces launch of New Zealand bank fees class action against ANZ
Slater and Gordon announces a class action against the New Zealand subsidiary of ANZ Bank will be launched after thousands of bank customers signed up to recoup unfair penalty fees.
The firm partnered with New Zealand lawyer Andrew Hooker, who will lead the Fair Play on Fees class action, and litigation funder Litigation Lending Services in an action which follows similar cases in Australia.
August, 2013 – Slater and Gordon acquires Gibson and Gibson
Slater and Gordon expanded its footprint in Western Australia with the acquisition of Perth-based law firm, Gibson and Gibson, growing the firm’s operations by one-third in the state and increasing the total number of staff to more than 80.
September, 2013 – Growth trajectory earns Slater and Gordon a place on the S and P/ASX 300 index
Slater and Gordon was named on the S and P/ASX 300 index, recognising the firm’s status among the country’s 300 biggest companies based on criteria including market capitalisation and share turnover.
Slater and Gordon was Australia’s first publically listed law firm, listing in 2007.
September 2013 – Digital legacy clauses included in Wills service
Slater and Gordon expands its online and standard wills service to include provisions for social media and virtual property. The new clause allows Australians to leave instructions for the future of their ‘digital self’.
November 2013 – Slater and Gordon announce plans to acquire UK law firm Pannone
Slater and Gordon announces the acquisition of the personal legal services practice of leading United Kingdom consumer law firm Pannone Solicitors LLP. The acquisition broadens the legal services offered to people in the UK.
December 2013 – Slater and Gordon earns a place on the S and P/ASX 200 index
Three months after the inclusion in the ASX 300 index, Slater and Gordon enters the S and P/ASX200 index, reflecting continued investor confidence in the growth strategy adopted by the company since listing in 2007.
January 2014 – Slater and Gordon lawyers and staff give back with $30,000 giveaway
Slater and Gordon calls for applications, from not-for-profits and community organisations to share in $30,000 in grants from its Community Fund. The Fund includes money raised through the firm’s Staff Giving Program which allows staff to give back to the local communities they work with and supports the firms commitment to alleviating inequality. To read more about the recipients, click here.
February 2014 – Thalidomide settlement approval
February 2014 –New Zealand bank fees class action extended
Slater and Gordon extends the New Zealand (NZ) bank fees class action to include NZ banks Westpac, BNZ and ASB as part of legal action against unfair penalty fees. Legal action against ANZ was announced in June 2013. Slater and Gordon partners with NZ lawyer Andrew Hooker, who leads the Fair Play on Fees class action.
February 2014 – Former Fairbridge child migrants class action against Government proceeds
March 2014 – Slater and Gordon announce proposed class action against Billabong
Slater and Gordon announces it is preparing a class action against surfwear, accessories and action sports apparel company Billabong on behalf of hundreds of investors who contend that Billabong engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and failed to comply with its continuous disclosure obligations.