Ai Group Workplace Lawyers are a team of multi-faceted and multi-skilled practitioners who offer expertise across the full spectrum of employment and industrial law.

Many of our lawyers come from nationally recognised law firms, bringing with them years of corporate employment law experience.

A desire to form deeper client-practitioner relationships to support our members motivated them to become part of the Ai Group team.

“People think of us as the industrial people, but there’s much more to it than that,” says Legal Practitioner Director Emma Goodwin.

“We can do it all,” Ms Goodwin, who previously worked at Minter Ellison, added.

“You don’t have to go to one of the big law firms. We have highly experienced employment and industrial legal practitioners who have done this work in a variety of contexts and who have experience across the full spectrum. That diversity of experience is extremely useful and enables us to look at problems from all sorts of angles.

“We’re not just dealing with industrial disputes, day in, day out.”

Ms Goodwin, who also worked at Clayton Utz for five years and King & Wood Mallesons for four years, said the team at Ai Group Workplace Lawyers share a genuine desire to support and empower members.

“We want to empower you to ensure you don’t make mistakes and if you do — because mistakes do happen — help you think of the most efficient way to fix them.

“’This is the knowledge you need; and these are the steps you need to take to avoid getting into the problem in the first place.

“That’s always a much better scenario than trying to tidy it up later.”

Industrial law involves negotiating agreements and dealing with industrial disputes, typically involving unions, whereas employment law encapsulates a variety of issues and disputes arising from the employer / employee relationship. Such matters include, for example:

  • employment contracts
  • policies and procedures
  • termination of employment
  • confidentiality agreements
  • protection of intellectual property
  • post-employment restraints
  • transfer of employment / instruments
  • sale of business arrangements
  • workplace investigations
  • workplace rights, adverse action, discrimination, bullying and harassment
  • compliance and risk assessments
  • privacy and health records
  • regulation of executive remuneration
  • underpayments and
  • OHS / WHS matters.

“The industrial side involves managing collective industrial relationships with unions and employees, while employment law focuses more on individual relationships,” Ms Goodwin says.

“It’s fascinating. There are always new challenges and many ways to approach an issue. It’s being able to come up with a flexible solution that fits the situation because no one size fits all.

“We’ll always seek to give you a pragmatic solution based on the underlying legal position. However, what that looks like in an individual relationship context may be quite different to when managing an industrial dispute. We can tailor support to individual needs.”

Special Counsel Luca Saccoccio is 12 years into his career.

After working at Gadens for five years and Norton Rose Fulbright for two, he joined the team at Ai Group Workplace Lawyers to gain more exposure to industrial relations and to also build on his employment law expertise.

“Fundamentally, employment law is always interesting because you deal with people,” Mr Saccoccio said.

“Supporting our members in these matters provides us with the opportunity to work with a full spectrum of personalities and stakeholders, from senior executives of ASX-listed companies to employees on the factory floor. You need to be personable, adapt to evolving situations and have an element of “street smarts” if you want to successfully resolve issues in the workplace. 

“You speak to a lot of people, and they all have differing views and desires. As such, you need to think three or four steps ahead and see the big picture from the outset. You tend to see things this way the more experienced you become.”

Many clients are introduced to the team through the Workplace Advice Line, Ai Group’s national telephone advisory service for on-the-spot workplace-related questions.

“We can often solve issues quickly and expertly, and because clients are impressed with that, they keep coming back directly to our practitioners and partner up with them,” Mr Saccoccio said.  

Clients also benefit greatly from the policy work that Ai Group does.

“A lot of the work we do in conjunction with our policy team is at the forefront of employment and industrial law,” Mr Saccoccio said.

“In terms of prospective changes to legislation or cases in the High Court where we are in constant communication with the parties, if we’re not running them ourselves, we’re at the forefront and we share this knowledge and insights with our client and member base. Whereas, when I was in private practice, we wouldn’t be aware of such changes or conversations until the formalities had concluded.

“Ai Group is one or two steps ahead which means our team of employment lawyers are one or two steps ahead. That’s important. We can leverage off our policy team to get on the front foot.

“If you’re an Ai Group member, you’re absolutely getting bang for your buck in terms of expertise, timely advice and quality of work.”

Legal Practitioner Director Ian Dixon, who joined Ai Group Workplace Lawyers two years ago after a long and illustrious career at Gadens and Baker McKenzie, also enjoys this member interaction.

“Being a membership organisation, you’re closer to being part of their business,” Mr Dixon said.

“I’ve never had so many people say ‘thank you’ as I have here. Our members really appreciate the help you give. Even if it’s a 30-minute call, they’re appreciative. I’ve always been close to my clients but here, there is a general appreciation every time. Our work is really helping people.”

For Mr Dixon, employment and industrial law is the most interesting mix of law, people, politics, economics and business.

“Private practice is a bit more hard-nosed and you’re there for the money,” he said.

“We can give you black-letter law if you want it but at a much more competitive price than that of a private law firm. However, because we are closer to our member’s business, we also offer practical and pragmatic approaches to achieve the desired outcome.”

Head of Legal & Consulting Services Victoria Halliday said it was exciting to lead such a talented and dynamic team.

“We have excellent lawyers with technical skills that cover employment law, not just IR advisory work,” Ms Halliday said.

“We’ve got great experience and the work we do is challenging and rewarding.”

Ai Group Workplace Lawyers is a national, full-service law firm offering unrivalled expertise in employment and industrial relations issues.

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