Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Australia’s number one plaintiff law firm, today celebrates its 100th birthday and the centenary of its mission to fight for fairness and equality.
In 1919, visionary founder Maurice Blackburn started a law firm to defend and advance the rights of everyday Australians.
One hundred years later, that practice is now a multi-practice legal services company with more than 1000 employees across the country. For a century, the firm has worked to widen access to justice in Australia, helping more than 100,000 individuals defend their rights before the law.
Among its many landmark legal wins, the firm has fought for:
The 40-hour working week (1947);
Wage equality for aboriginal workers (1966);
Equal pay for women (1972);
The prevention of mass sacking of union employers in the MUA waterfront dispute (1998); and
Record compensation for an asbestos victim (2011).
The firm is also a pioneer in collective legal action. Maurice Blackburn has run Australia’s largest and most complex class actions, providing access to justice to thousands of individual claimants who would not have been able to fight powerful defendants on their own. It ran the first successful shareholder class action in Australia (GIO, 2003) and achieved the largest-ever class action recovery (Black Saturday Bushfires, $794 million). Maurice Blackburn is the only Australian law firm to have achieved listed securities class actions recoveries in excess of $100 million – a feat the firm has now accomplished seven times.
In addition to this, Maurice Blackburn has also maintained its strong commitment to defending the workplace, civil and political rights of individuals.
The firm acted pro bono to get more than 20 children and adults out of offshore detention for medical assessment and treatment in Australia;
Led national debates on wage theft, precarious work, workplace bullying, and gender equity;
Settled more than 30,000 matters across Australia; and
Relentlessly advocated for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, holding states and territories accountable for implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“From our work helping injured people to get their lives back on track through to our ground-breaking courtroom victories, Maurice Blackburn has made an important and enduring contribution to fairness in Australia,” Maurice Blackburn chief executive Jacob Varghese said.
“And we’re only just getting started. Our founding mission – to extend access to justice to the many and not just the few – remains as relevant as ever.
“We are proud to continue the legacy of our founder Maurice Blackburn, who never shied away from standing up for causes and cases to advance the rights of working people.
“We look forward to another 100 years of fighting for the dignity of every Australian,” he said.
Father of the Fair Go, a documentary about founder Maurice Blackburn, airs Sunday March 10 at 3pm on Network Seven