lauren southern holding a microphone
Lauren Southern pictured at a rally in 2018 (Image: AAP/Jeremy Ng)

No Juan saw this coming HWL Ebsworth bills itself as “not your typical law firm”. And the pandemic has proved just that.

While the legal sector adapted to a new world of remote working, the firm resolutely stuck to its culture of toxic presentee-ism, forcing employees to keep coming in, with work from home requests assessed on a case by case basis. Managing partner Juan Martinez said the firm would not be “blindly following the lead of others like lemmings”.

Now, Australia’s biggest legal partnership is paying the price — six cases have been linked to its Melbourne office.

And our tipsters suggest most of those cases are law graduates, generally in their first year out of university.

Throughout the pandemic, staff have kept working at the office, despite concerns about a lack of physical distancing and access to hand sanitiser.

Several employees say they didn’t find out about the cluster until it was reported on the news Thursday night. 

Martinez’s leadership style has come under scrutiny before. In one of the two unlawful dismissal cases against the firm last year, Federal Court judge Nye Perram called him “a man accustomed to instinctive obedience.” In the other case, NSW Supreme Court judge Stephen Robb slammed him. “I’m no villain,” Martinez told an Australian Financial Review profile. 

Lawyers against vaccines When Dan Andrews introduced a mandatory mask order over the weekend, Sydney-based law firm G&B Lawyers was quick to respond with a bit of “free legal advice”, taking to Facebook to urge Victorians to cop the $200 fine and fight it in court.

The firm then complained it was being trolled when its absurd advice landed it a string of one star reviews.

It’s not the first time G&B Lawyers has weighed in on public health matters.

Partner Nathan Buckley is currently leading a crusade against mandatory flu vaccination laws. His GoFundMe page for a High Court challenge against South Australia’s “No Jab No Play” rules is sitting on $50,000 (well short of its $10 million target).

In June, G&B cheered on Victorians who refused to get a COVID-19 test. The firm’s website and its Facebook page have been devoted to running a campaign against vaccination laws, and providing legal advice such as free template letters for people trying to opt out of employer-mandated flu vaccination. 

Who consults the consultants? They’re normally the ones dishing out job cuts, but during the pandemic, management consulting and professional services firms have been whacked hard.

June was the cruellest month for the sector — Deloitte axed 700 jobs in eight days, and PwC cut 400. KPMG had earlier cut 200 jobs. Ernst & Young seems to be the only member of the Big Four to avoid job losses, cutting staff pay and hours by up to 20%.

Meanwhile, The Australian Financial Review has reportedly been killing it on the white collar beat — so successfully that it scooped some firms’ internal staff emails. 

Lauren heads South Far-right Canadian YouTuber Lauren Southern, known for her rants against feminism and Islam, reportedly now calls Australia home.

After a one-year hiatus, during which she married an Australian, Southern marked her return with a special appearance on Sky News’ Outsiders, and an article in The Spectator.

Despite masquerading as a regular citizen concerned about cancel culture, Southern’s past output is, of course, much darker. She’s been a proponent of the white nationalist “great replacement” theory, also touted by the Christchurch shooter.

She’s also been arrested by the Italian coast guard for trying to block a ship rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean. We look forward to her becoming a regular on Sky.