Melbourne based law firm Aitken Partners has promoted Kathy Wilson and Peta Olive the position of Principals effective 1 May. The appointments bring the firm to 11 Principals, with the two new appointments both working part-time hours.
Kathy has been with the firm for more than a decade and is a very experienced practitioner in Wills, Estates & Succession Planning and heads that team inside Aitken Partners; she is an accredited specialist in Wills & Estates, a qualified Trust & Estate practitioner, an accredited mediator and Chair of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Succession Law Committee. Outside the law, Kathy sits on the Federation Square board.
Peta, who is about to take maternity leave, joined Aitken Partners in October 2013 as Special Counsel and has since taken on the position as head of the firm’s burgeoning Compulsory Acquisitions practice. Peta recently guided many clients through the East-West Link saga and Princes Highway duplication Geelong to Colac.
“We have never gone out of our way to view gender as an issue for promotion,” Stephen Curtain, a Principal of the firm said in announcing the appointments. “Our growth over the past few years has come through lateral recruitment and mergers, so it is now good for us to look internally to see where the next group of leaders is coming from… I think both Kathy and Peta can provide even more mentoring to our increasingly powerful group of young lawyers as well their direct teams.
“Peta is very practical in the advice she is giving to clients and we are receiving excellent feedback from her clients. She remains a staunch advocate for the rights of individual landowners, businesses and tenants affected by compulsory acquisition, but not to the point where she loses practicality.
“Compulsory acquisition can be a very emotional process, and we have found her approach to be empathetic in finding the right outcome for our clients. This all made it very easy for us to appoint her a Principal whilst at the same time she anticipates the birth of her second child.
“Kathy is one of the leading lawyers in her field in Victoria, and she not only provides leadership to our Wills & Estates team, but also the broader legal community in this field. We know Kathy well and we are very happy to have her in the leadership team as a Principal.”
Peta has acted in compulsory acquisition for many years, but only turned it into her primary focus when she joined Aitken Partners.
“I said when I started at Aitken Partners that I wanted to be part of a team that cares about the rights of its clients and works hard for the right outcomes,” she said. “I knew at the time that there weren’t many firms that only represent private clients in this highly specialised area of law, and I am proud now to head the team as a Principal.
“Unfortunately there are still many law firms out there that view maternity leave and part-time hours as a barrier to promotion, given that I’m only six weeks away from maternity leave I think that just shows the quality of the firm and its open approach to its recruitment and promotions. There are a lot of great young lawyers climbing the ranks here, many of them female, and I am proud to provide them with some form of leadership.”
For Kathy, the path to the becoming a Principal has been less traditional, having been with the firm for more than a decade before deciding the time was right.
“The timing is right for me and the firm,” she said. “I think career paths inside the legal profession can now be viewed in different ways, it is now very much about finding a model that suits everyone during various times in their life.
“For me, it has been about finding a balance between Aitken Partners, my family and also various activities in the community, including my work with the Law Institute of Victoria and the ongoing development of laws in wills, succession and guardianship.”