Thank you all for another great year at Johnston Withers. While the world is becoming increasingly unpredictable we have been hard at work – kicking goals for our clients, building our business and creating what we hope is great professional environment for our staff.
We have a number of milestones to share – starting with our birthday party. Johnson Withers turned 70 this year! We consider it quite an achievement – not just our longevity, but also because we have held true to our roots as a progressive firm, deeply committed to providing cost-effective, high-quality, realistic advice to those that need it. We celebrated the milestone with a wonderful party at the very quirky Semaphore Workers’ Club. (Our founder, Elliott Johnston, would have approved.) A memorable night!
There are lots of other things to note. Here are some of them. We
- sued Google – and won! The case is still before the courts (on appeal) but we are proud to say that we helped one of our clients take on this global giant, in order to protect her reputation. Early this year Google were ordered to pay our client over $100,000 in damages (one of the largest damages awards in SA under the new uniform defamation laws).
- were also successful in suing News Limited, in another high profile defamation matter after resisting an application for special leave to the High Court.
- remained at the forefront of workers’ compensation – protecting workers’ interests in the complex legal framework that is the Return to Work Act. In particular we helped a number of workers obtain an assessment of ‘serious injury’ which entitles them to lifelong compensation and payment of their medical expenses.
- expanded and consolidated our Family Law team with the appointment of the highly regarded family lawyer Vanessa Balnaves. Vanessa brings years of experience working with clients during some of their most stressful times – including Christmas time when emotions run high and Vanessa remains unflappable.
- took on two bright new graduates: Caitlin Walkington and Fiona Bailey to join our team in Adelaide and Whyalla respectively.
- appointed Gemma Wallace to join our conveyancing team. Since her arrival Gemma has automated our conveyancing practice, and was instrumental in Johnston Withers making digital history by being one of the first law firms in SA to lodge a document using PEXA. She and the rest of our conveyancing team are currently overseeing the largest bundle of pre-Christmas settlements the firm has ever experienced.
- again enjoyed a wonderful retreat in Auburn and Clare – where we chewed the fat about the law and then soaked up the joys (and the food and wine) of that glorious valley. Thanks again to our two guest speakers, the Honourable Greg Crafter and barrister Andrew Collett – and to Mr Micks, The Rising Sun, ASH catering and Wines by KT for their superb hospitality. Our client function was so good it made Hansard! (hansard-greg-crafter-at-clare).
- helped a number of farming families struggling with the challenge of passing their most valuable asset, their farm, to the next generation. Kirsty Bennett in particular (another of our recent recruits) has done some valuable work in this area – bringing her years of experience, her legal skills and her compassionate approach to the task.
- continued to act for a wide range of Aboriginal organisations including in negotiating with the WA state government over a marine park in the far north of Western Australia.
- added another member to our family – Kate Eckert’s daughter, Olivia.
- again sponsored the Elliott Johnston Memorial Lecture , in honour of our founder. This years speaker was Emeritus Professor Michael Lavarch AO, on the ‘new stolen generation’ – a bruising critique of Australia’s response to the Bringing them Home Report 20 year’s on.
- celebrated (and commiserated over) Ted Guthrie’s decision to join the bar in 2017. Ted joins a long list of fine Johnston Withers lawyers (including the current Chief Justice, the current Attorney General and a number of QCs and Judges) who have spent their formative years in our firm. Ted goes with our blessing and our best wishes.
We hope your year has also been productive and interesting.
We’ll break over Christmas, from lunchtime on Thursday 22 December, and reopen our doors on Tuesday 3 January. We look forward to working with you, and for you, in 2017.
Wishing you all a wonderful break.
The Directors and Staff of Johnston Withers