Australia: HBA Legal expands into Melbourne
Last Updated: 24 May 2019

Media Release: HBA Legal has officially opened its doors in Melbourne this week, as the defendant-only insurance practice further expands its national footprint.

Founded in 2011 with offices in Perth and Sydney and just 11 employees, today HBA Legal also operates out of Brisbane and Newcastle with around 70 staff around the country.

Managing Director Brett Ablong said the expansion was another indicator of the business going from strength to strength and clients embracing the NewLaw model.

"Our clients, that include top 20 ASX listed companies, are facing the 'more for less' challenge and the people in those organisations are under constant pressure to reduce costs, and that includes their legal spend," Mr Ablong said.

"For HBA to be able to offer big corporates the comfort of certainty over their legal spend in any given year, by us operating on fixed fees or monthly retainers... it's something that has proven very attractive to our client base and relatively unique because typically it's only been plaintiff firms offering these kinds of alternative fee structures to 'mum and dad' style clients."

Nicole Kelidis has been brought in as Senior Associate, based in Melbourne, with HBA's Melbourne team expected to grow over time. Nicole joins HBA from the in-house legal team at Woolworths, working on public liability and workers' compensation matters, as a Senior Solicitor.

HBA Chair of the Board Nathan Hepple said in addition to Nicole's impressive legal expertise, she importantly brings with her experience in independently managing a legal practice.

"When Woolworths established its public liability legal team in Melbourne, Nicole was the person who set up the initial office, recruited team members and handled overall team management. These skills will come in very handy for us.

"Nicole will focus on building our brand on the ground in Victoria and responding to a great client demand based out of Melbourne," Mr Hepple said.

Me Hepple was quick to point out that despite the expanding footprint, there were no partner or team or geographical 'silos' at HBA.

"I came from traditional-thinking type firms where I'd observe the partners operating in a way that was very much every man or woman for themself with very little collaboration and comradery across teams to get to outcomes that were best for the clients and indeed the wider firm.

"I am incredibly proud to say we are the complete opposite of that approach at HBA and I'm confident our clients and our people would testify to that," Mr Hepple said.

"Our One HBA business model removes borders to draw on the skill and experience of our people across the country, wherever they sit in relation to the client and regardless of which partner they report to."

Ms Kelidis said: "Coming from an in-house role, part of what attracted me to HBA was the fact that it has done away with the shackles of bureaucracy and traditional thinking so often seen in the big firms.

"It is clear it's an incredibly values driven organisation and that's an environment that makes me feel comfortable. And when you feel at home, I believe, that's when one can be at their best," she said.

Joining HBA's Perth office just last week was Senior Associate Deirdre Pennock, who joins the firm after 10 years with Sparke Helmore. Working closely with award winning litigator Ruth Slater, Pennock is focusing primarily on motor injury insurance work (CTP).

This week, HBA Legal has also welcomed Solicitors Tony Le in Perth (previously with AJG Gallagher as a Workers' Compensation Consultant) and Lilianna Ghamraoui in Sydney (Senior Claims Advisor at Zurich Insurance).

HBA Legal is part of the HBA Group which also consists of claims management business Paratus, as well as Pillion which is the engine room of innovative technology driven solutions for both the law firm and the claims business.

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