Iain Irvine is a partner at Vardon Legal – he’s been with the Adelaide-based commercial law firm for the entirety of its ten-year life. But his relationship with the firm is young in comparison with its ties to the AADC, which pre-date not only Vardon Legal’s founding but also the beginning of Iain’s career in law.
“I started practicing about 17 or 18 years ago,” says Iain. “Before even then, at the larger law firm where I used to work, there was a partner who was friendly with the AADC.
“The team that I was part of [at that firm] was always a sponsor of the AADC and I sort of took over when that partner left. I became the lawyer managing that relationship, and then carried it over to this new firm.”
Iain brought the AADC sponsorship arrangement along during the establishment of Vardon Legal (formerly known as Kelly Hazell Quill Lawyers Adelaide) because there are clear parallels between their world of law and the creative industry.
“The firm has historically provided a lot of general commercial advice,” he says. “But also advice around IP, particularly branding and trademark protection, copyright issues, issues around Australian consumer law and misleading and deceptive conduct, including in advertising content, privacy advice, all of those sort of areas are things that have the potential to be relevant to ad agencies and others in this industry.”
Vardon Legal was established in 2013 with the aim of creating a model for engaging with clients that was less tiered, allowing all clients better access to senior lawyers.
Over the last decade, the firm has evolved and grown – including by broadening its sphere of practice and its international footprint.
“What we decided a few years ago was that we wanted to be able to provide our clients with a more full-service offering,” says Iain. “The types of clients that we had, we thought they would also need litigation support – so dispute resolution, they would need property and leasing, they would need workplace and IR advice.
“We decided we're going to build out the firm to include those skill sets… Now, without making the firm very large, we are able to provide the clients that we have with largely all the legal services that they require.
“We've also significantly built out… our international practice. We do a lot of work with foreign companies and with other foreign law firms, helping our clients expand overseas but also helping their clients expand into Australia.”
While Vardon Legal now has an impressive client list that Iain says might make some people ask, ‘how the hell is this little law firm from Adelaide working for these clients?’, the firm continues to support the AADC.
As they have long done, lawyers at Vardon Legal provide the Club with advice on questions of governance, constitution, finances, insurance or liabilities.
In recognition, the AADC acknowledges Vardon Legal as a sponsor. While it’s a long-standing arrangement, Iain says it is not and never has been a particularly transactional one. For him, its more about good alignment than a direct give and take.
“It's not that we we're trying to make this some great way of getting legal work for us,” he says. “It's more about supporting the organisation in whatever way we can… and we actually enjoy being part of an organisation and an industry where people have a lot of passion for what they do.”