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5 minutes with newly appointed Senior Associate Ben

Dispute Resolution & Litigation
Ben Friis O Toole
Newly appointed Litigation Senior Associate, Ben Friis-O'Toole, gives an insight into his background, key market trends and what he values about working at ABL.

What skills/experiences would you identify as adding a different dimension to your approach as a lawyer? 

Spending a year working for a leading Federal Court judge gave me an understanding of how judges hear and decide cases.  I am able to use that understanding to inform everything I do for clients in helping them to solve problems and resolve disputes.

What sort of lawyer do you want to be for your clients? 

A strategic and pragmatic adviser, who understands what the client wants to achieve and how best to get that outcome.  

Someone who is passionate about what they do and that clients enjoy working with.

What would you say are some of the key market trends or developments you are seeing in your practice this year? 

We are seeing a number of important developments in the Dispute Resolution & Litigation and Reconstruction & Insolvency practice areas. In particular:
  • The Australian Law Reform Commission is conducting an inquiry into class actions and litigation funders.  The Commission is considering the continuous disclosure regime and the prohibition on misleading or deceptive conduct, regulation of litigation funding and commission rates and legal fees, dealing with conflicts of interest, competing class actions and settlement approval and distribution.  Its report is due by December 2018 and its findings will have a real impact on class actions in Australia.  The inquiry is also likely to be very significant for directors, particularly of listed companies.
  • The new ‘safe harbour’ insolvency reforms, which provide a carve out for directors from the insolvent trading regime, took effect late last year.  It is still early days, but the reforms have the potential to assist lawyers and other advisers to work with companies in financial distress to keep them out of administration.  The ‘ipso facto’ reforms, which prevent parties from terminating agreements on the occurrence of an insolvency event and take effect this month, are likely to provide another important tool in assisting financially distressed companies.
  • The recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, due next February, are likely to have a very significant impact on the sector and how it is regulated.

“Make sure you enjoy what you do, learn as much as you can from those around you, and treat your colleagues (including your opponents) respectfully.”

What advice would you give to new lawyers?

Try to understand the end game, and do what you can to help your team and your clients achieve it.  In the process, make sure you enjoy what you do, learn as much as you can from those around you, and treat your colleagues (including your opponents) respectfully.  

What do you enjoy most about working at ABL?

Every day I work with extremely smart people to solve difficult problems for sophisticated clients.  It is a challenging but very rewarding place to work.

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