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Q&A with new Partner Gavin Hammerschlag

Capital Markets, Corporate and M&A
2020 06 18 ABL 339
Newly appointed Corporate and M&A Partner, Gavin Hammerschlag, gives an insight into his background, his practice and how ABL has evolved as a firm.

How do you think this year's promotions reflect Arnold Bloch Leibler's evolution as a firm? 

The firm is bucking the trend by making significant promotions in its Corporate and M&A department. With the business world transforming before our eyes in the face of COVID-19, our practice is continuing its organic growth trajectory and capturing big players in the new economy.

With so much doom and gloom around, six of the 11 appointments this year are in the Corporate and M&A practice group. My appointment follows the appointment of new partners Jason van Grieken and Scott Phillips last year (Scott also works out of Sydney).

We are operating a seamless national practice now across Sydney and Melbourne, which has positioned us to be highly effective during the COVID-19 disruption.

I think the appointments this year reflect the evolution of the Sydney office more broadly. Arnold Bloch Leibler has historically been known as a Melbourne firm because the Melbourne office has so many pre-eminent figures in the law.

The Sydney office opened 15 years ago with just one partner, Paul Rubenstein. I joined in 2012 and, in the last six years in particular, Sydney has really come into its own. Each practice group here is doing cutting edge work and attracting due recognition for it.

What attracted you to the law?

While I studied a commerce-law degree and had my options open, I followed my passion into the law rather than seeking a career in business.

A lot of people think of the law as a safer career than business – and whilst it is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, I don't see it that way. I'm passionate about the business of the law and, in particular, the opportunity to bring the entrepreneurial spirit of business into the law. I enjoy the opportunity to work closely with and grow with a client – to advise them on their most important transactions and decisions.

Our practice is at the very forefront in advising the new retail sector, where only the best survive. Zip is one of a number of highly visible clients in this space, and it's been an exciting journey working with Jeremy Leibler as we've accompanied Zip on its growth trajectory from a small cap ASX listed company through to the $2.5 billion international juggernaut it is today. We advise Accent Group, once only the Athletes Foot, and now the largest distributor of footwear in the country with new businesses such as Platypus and Hype DC, Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, online retailer Kogan, Susan, City Chic, Winning Group + Appliances Online and Spotlight Group, which recently acquired Harris Scarfe.

When people ask me about my work, I don't talk about technical legal aspects. I tell them the Zip story or the Accent story, and they get why I'm so passionate about what I do.

You feature in the 2020 AFR Law Partnership Survey as one of the youngest new partners appointed this year. How have you achieved what you have professionally in such a short time?

Arnold Bloch Leibler gives young lawyers the opportunity to work directly with clients from the very beginning, and then to quickly become their day-to-day contact point with the firm.  

In 2015 I was recognised as one of the 30 best lawyers in Australia under the age of 30, winning the 'Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30' Award in the M&A category. In 2018, I was a member of the ABL deal team that won ‘Australian Deal of the Year’ at the 2018 Australasian Law Awards for our work on the sale of Arrium Australia to GFG Alliance. And earlier this year I was recommended by Best Lawyers® International guide for equity capital markets law. The ABL partners gave me those opportunities and, without them, I wouldn't be in the position I am now.

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