Melbourne law firm, Madgwicks, was founded more than 40 years ago, in 1975, by Graeme Levy and Peter Kennedy. An offshoot of the Sydney firm, Madgwick and Madgwick, which specialised in commercial law, commercial litigation and insolvency, the small Melbourne branch opened its doors in the early 1970s. Graeme and Peter, not long out of law school, started with the firm in 1972 and 1973 respectively.
The very young Graeme and Peter honed their skills under the helm of the Managing Partner, the late Warren Walter Madgwick and his team of leading insolvency practitioners including Geoffrey Michael Cohen, Wayne Marle and David Blessington.
Following concerns about the performance of the Melbourne office, the Sydney office considered closing its Melbourne branch. However, Graeme and Peter, still in their 20s and with fledgling careers, seized a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to purchase the Melbourne business.
And so the firm of Madgwicks Lawyers, as we know it today, formally began its operations in Melbourne on 1 July 1975.
Commencing as a lawyer in Melbourne in the early 1970s and becoming one of the founders of Melbourne law firm, Madgwicks Lawyers, in July 1975 with Peter Kennedy, Graeme specialized in commercial and corporate law, insolvency and reconstruction, and commercial litigation. With a legal practice spanning more than 40 years, Graeme gained experience across many industry sectors, with a particular focus on the manufacturing, distribution and services industries in both the private and public sectors.
According to his clients, Graeme’s greatest strength was his ability to provide a commercial overview, including the identification of the risk and key issues at the outset. His extensive insolvency and commercial law experience allowed him to review all types of businesses, thus enabling him to advise the best business structure for any situation. Because of his experience in both front and back end work, he has been able to act as a true business advisor and is still called upon today, as a consultant to the firm.
Peter completed his articled clerkship, under the watchful eye of the Managing Partner at Ellison Hewison Whitehead in 1972. Peter then worked for accounting firm, Horneman Macaw & Oldfield, for four months before commencing as a junior lawyer at Madgwick and Madgwick (Sydney-owned) in July 1973. Peter became one of the founding partners of Melbourne law firm, Madgwicks Lawyers, in July 1975 with Graeme Levy.
Over the past 43 years, Peter has developed a leading practice in the areas of insolvency, corporate reconstruction, commercial advice and commercial litigation. Peter’s long experience in these areas makes him a trusted advisor for businesses and individuals who face significant legal and financial challenges. Peter also sits on the boards of a number of listed and unlisted companies in the manufacturing, mining, funds management and investment industries.
In 1972, Graeme Levy joins Melbourne branch of Sydney firm, Madgwick and Madgwick. On 16 July 1973, Peter Kennedy joins Graeme Levy. On 1 July 1975, Graeme Levy and Peter Kennedy (the “Odd Couple”) jointly purchase the business and chattels in Melbourne for a princely sum of $2300 and proceed to lay the foundations for Madgwicks Lawyers by slowly building the insolvency and litigation practice. The office is situated at 491 Bourke Street in Melbourne (which is now part of the RACV).
Following some success in the early years, the new decade heralds a move to new offices at Level 7, 440 Collins Street, Melbourne. Madgwicks secures some big clients including agricultural equipment company, International Harvester. Peter and Graeme hire their first lawyer and an Office Manager.
The recessionary climate in Australia in the early 1990s represents the boom years for Madgwicks with significant insolvency and litigation cases including the Pyramid Building Society insolvency and litigation. In 1992, the firm moves to Level 19, 535 Bourke Street, Melbourne and in 1995, the firm celebrates 20 years of operation. Madgwicks now has 18 lawyers.
As the new century begins, the Pyramid insolvency and litigation work ceases and it becomes abundantly clear that insolvency work is very cyclical. However, in another area of the firm, the Madgwicks’ Property team enjoys significant growth that prompts a move in 2006 to Level 33, 140 William Street, Melbourne. In 2008, the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hits with huge impacts to some key clients.
2010s to present
With the 2000s in full swing, the well-established Insolvency and Litigation practice and the large Property practice are complemented with the firm’s large Corporate and Commercial arm and its Workplace Relations practice to be able to offer the full suite of business advisory services to its clients. In 2015, Madgwicks’ clients and staff celebrate 40 years of operation at the Australian Club with keynote speaker, Jeff Kennett, Chairman of Beyond Blue and Former Premier of Victoria, marking the occasion. Madgwicks now has 45 fee earners and 100 staff in total.