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Meet newly appointed special counsel Rachel Soh

Employment & Workplace Advisory
Rachel Soh website abstract v9
We spoke to newly appointed special counsel Rachel Soh about the growth of our Employment and Workplace Advisory practice, the ABL approach to high stakes workplace/employment matters and the current state of industrial relations in Australia.

Over the past five years, you and employment and workplace advisory partner Bridget Little have grown the practice significantly. How did you know what was possible and how to go about achieving it?

When I think back to that (pre-pandemic) time, we had no fixed idea of what was possible. What we did know was that if we worked hard, worked smart, surrounded ourselves with good people and delivered results for our clients, there was every chance that we’d be able to grow the practice and prove the firm’s faith in us was well founded.

What it came down to was 100% leaning into being in the deep end. And five years down the track, we’ve:

  • doubled the size of the team
  • worked on matters that Bridget and I consider as career defining, including collaborating with other practice areas on some of the firm’s most significant matters, and
  • established our position as trusted advisers to a range of new and existing clients.

Having just returned from taking a year off after the arrival of your second baby, were you surprised to be promoted at this time? 

A number of my colleagues have been promoted while they were on parental leave so that aspect wasn’t a surprise. It’s very much Arnold Bloch Leibler’s culture to recognise and reward people’s effort and commitment, and taking time out for family or other reasons is not viewed as being in conflict with this at all. I feel incredibly proud and grateful to be part of such a talented firm of market leading practitioners.

Arnold Bloch Leibler is renowned for providing bespoke, highly commercial advice on clients’ most important decisions. What kind of high stakes workplace matters do clients bring to the firm?

Employment matters require a holistic and multi-faceted approach.  In the employment space, it is rare for a pure legal approach alone to deliver the right outcome for clients. 

Like other practice areas at Arnold Bloch Leibler, our clients bring us their most interesting and tricky matters. We work on complex, often messy personnel transitions, large workplace change, heavily contested disputes and litigation that’s critical for a business to survive.

Clients come to us because we think deeply about the commercial drivers, the human dynamics and the risk/reward equation. This is the work I love doing and how we go about it can make all the difference in the trajectory of a matter.

The flow-on impacts of covid, alongside the change in government at the federal level, have put the national spotlight back onto the industrial relations landscape. How do you see this playing out?

We are at an interesting point in time for our practice area – there’s a sense of anticipation but also a level of trepidation and change fatigue.

The ongoing impact of the pandemic - on labour supply, remote working and changed expectations of workplaces - has the industrial relations landscape in a state of flux. And it feels like the practical effects are still being revealed to us.

Simultaneously, the change in government means that we are starting to re-focus on issues that took a back seat during the pandemic, evidenced by the level of interest in the recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

Along with legal developments such as the recent High Court decision considering independent contractors, our employer clients are acutely aware of the need to re-evaluate how they engage with their workforce in almost every sense.

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