Why work with us
At the heart of what we do is a belief that the law should serve everyone.
WHO WE ARE
At Maurice Blackburn, we fight for outcomes that make a genuine difference to peoples' lives. Maurice McCrae Blackburn founded our firm in Melbourne in 1919. Almost 100 years later, our founder's belief that the law should serve everyone, not just those who can afford it, remains at the heart of who we are and what we do.
We believe that legal action, which supports social justice, contributes to a better society. Our Social Justice Practice challenges the excesses of government and business, and champions the rights of those who are disadvantaged. We have led litigation in the public interest on behalf of refugees, workers who have been underpaid, and people who have been unfairly targeted by national security legislation.
We recognise that there are individuals and organisations in our community who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. That's why, in appropriate cases, Maurice Blackburn will provide legal services to such organisations and individuals on a pro bono or reduced charge basis. We also work with many barristers on a similar basis.
We fight for fair.
HISTORY OF THE FIRM
Maurice Blackburn was founded in 1919 on a set of unwavering beliefs. A belief that the law should serve everyone, not just those who can afford it. A belief in fighting back against unfair treatment. And a belief that the betterment of people and their livelihood is our greatest profit.
It’s this passion for righting wrongs that’s at the heart of everything we do.
The struggle for shorter working hours was perhaps the most important of the immediate post-WW2 period. In October of 1945, Maurice Blackburn made a claim for the 40-hour week on behalf of the unions.
The fight proved to be difficult and drawn out – lasting nearly two full years. But from January 1948 all employees, with the exception of those working irregular hours, were awarded a standard working week of 40 hours with reasonable provision for overtime.
The decision prompted great relief from Australian industry and was a significant victory for working people.
Aboriginal workers had long been denied equal pay relative to other workers. And Maurice Blackburn and his wife Doris were among the earliest non-aboriginal Australians fighting for Aboriginal rights.
The history of inequality finally began to change in 1965 when Maurice Blackburn contested the Northern Cattle Industry Case – resulting in wage equality and award conditions for all ‘full-blooded’ Aboriginal men employed as station hands.
This landmark decision set the stage for similar decisions to be achieved in other industries.
The influx of women into the workforce during WW2 – many in jobs previously held by men – greatly intensified pressure for equal pay.
Many of the unions that led the struggle for equality were clients of Maurice Blackburn, and the firm lodged claim after claim for female wages justice.
The fight continued in the courts and on the political stage throughout the 1950s and 1960s, until the final victory in 1972 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became law.
In 1998 Patrick Stevedores, the Federal Government and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) conspired to dismiss all of Patrick’s waterfront employees and replace them with non-union employees.
Together with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Maurice Blackburn waged a David and Goliath-style battle against major commercial law firms, and successfully obtained a Federal Court Order to prevent the mass sacking.
The ruling was upheld in the Full Court of the Federal Court and finally the High Court on 4 May 1998. This prevented the mass sacking of union employees.
In 1998, GIO shareholders were advised to reject a takeover offer of $5.35 per share. Six months later the company suffered losses of $2 billlion and shareholders received just $2.75 per share.
The GIO Class Action was initiated by Maurice Blackburn in August 1999. In August 2003, the Federal Court approved a $112 million settlement that was paid to 22,051 shareholders. It was the first successful shareholder class action and at the time, the largest class action settlement in Australian legal history.
11-year-old Iranian refugee Sharyn Bardraie developed post-traumatic stress disorder refusing to eat, drink or talk after witnessing traumatic events in mandatory detention, such as suicide attempts, self-harm and abuse.
Maurice Blackburn fought to expose the practices and conditions of the detention centre, and this landmark case was the first time the Federal Government conceded responsibility for psychological damage while in mandatory detention.
In 2009, Maurice Blackburn began a class action on behalf of those who suffered injury, loss or damage in the devastating Black Saturday bushfires – the worst in Australian history.
In July and December 2014 Maurice Blackburn secured settlements worth nearly $800 million, the biggest class action settlements in Australian legal history.
In 2007, Dr Mohammed Haneef was arrested and charged with a terrorism-related offence and detained for four weeks. The charge was later withdrawn.
During a 2008 inquiry, Maurice Blackburn fought to establish Dr Haneef’s innocence. It was concluded he should never have been charged or detained. Dr Haneef was issued a formal public apology and declaration of innocence by the Federal Government and Maurice Blackburn assisted him in gaining compensation.
On behalf of traditional owners, Maurice Blackburn began proceedings against the Federal Government and the Northen Land Council (NLC) over plans for a nuclear waste dump on Indigenous land.
By law, traditional owners must be adequately consulted and give their consent before a site on Aboriginal land can be nominated by government. The owners alleged this has not occurred.
Two weeks into the trial, the parties reached a settlement after the Federal Government agreed not to act upon the nomination of the site by the Northern Land Council (NLC).
Eric King developed mesothelioma after he was exposed to asbestos as a result of visiting a James Hardy factory in Western Australia in 1972. Maurice Blackburn took up the legal fight on his behalf.
A jury found that James Hardie failed to take reasonable care to avoid Mr King’s exposure to asbestos. He was awarded a record $1.15m in compensation.
The High Court unanimously agrees with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers client Yvonne D'Arcy that corporations shouldn’t be able to patent human genes. The impact of this win will be felt by all Australians as it sets a significant precedent concerning the patentability of components of human DNA.
The landmark ruling means that medical testing and research in Australia involving the human genome cannot be monopolised by corporations and can be carried out widely and cost-effectively.