HBA Legal has begun the year by opening an office in Canberra, a move that gives the firm a greater national presence just months after winning a place on the whole of Australian government legal panel.
The defendant-only insurance specialists, who have had a rapid rise in their eight years of business, already have offices in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Newcastle.
The firm, which identifies as NewLaw, has recruited Canberra local and specialist workers' compensation expert Kate Watson, formerly of Sydney-based practice Lehmann Snell Lawyers where she was Special Counsel.
Managing Director Brett Ablong said Ms Watson comes in as HBA Legal's newest Partner.
"The time has come for us to have a presence on the ground in Canberra, particularly now we are on the government panel and Kate will do an amazing job growing that office.
"We've been doing Canberra based work ever since we started HBA, this is not new. But it's exciting that we've got to the point that we can justify this significant expansion of our business," Mr Ablong said.
HBA opening in Canberra makes the firm truly national for the first time.
"There's no doubt this move is an indication of a business going from strength to strength," Ablong said.
Ms Watson said joining HBA presented her with a new personal challenge.
"There's a lot to do: I'm not just establishing myself in a new business, I'm also intending to build a terrific working environment here in Canberra that, over time, will attract some of the best Federal government workers' compensation and insurance law talent in our city," she said.
"HBA has built a reputation for being innovative as well as throwing traditional thinking out the door – I'm really drawn to that."
Ms Watson said there was one thing that won't change.
"I have been working flexibly for several years now, working around school hours and evenings. It works for me professionally and it works for my family, so it's excellent that HBA also offers true flexibility. I'll be continuing to work non-traditional hours as I embark on this next chapter," she said.
Kate has over 20 years' experience in the industry and specialises in federal workers' compensation. She is widely known within Canberra for being an expert in the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.
Kate's career has included around seven years in-house with Comcare in various roles including as its Chief Legal Officer (Claims & Liability Management) and Director of the SRC Legal division. Kate also spent eight years with the Australian Government Solicitor.