Canberra lawyer Kirsten Leitch is breaking the mould.
One of Canberra’s top workplace injury lawyers, Kirsten regularly receives flowers, bottles of wine and gifts from her clients to say thank you for helping them through the daunting claims process.
“The thank you cards never say ‘thank you for being a good lawyer’,” she says. “They thank me for holding their hand and just being there.”
Kirsten says there are many layers to her job.
“Being injured at work can have wide-ranging effects on a person’s life and on their family,” she says.
“It’s not just about workplace law and winning a case, my job is being there to support my clients through a really difficult time.
“They’re looking for emotional support, guidance and explanations every step of the way.”
The newest partner at Maliganis Edwards Johnson (MEJ), Kirsten was recognised as a `Leading Lawyer’ in workplace injury compensation in the Doyle’s Guide 2021.
She joined MEJ in 2013 and was made a partner in February 2022 along with Kate Waterford, both formerly special counsel at the firm.
Kirsten has honed her skills across 15 years working with governments and insurance companies in personal injury, public liability and professional indemnity.
Knowing the “other side” of the law has given her a different view when taking on workplace injury claims and collecting the evidence needed to put the best case forward.
“Previously I’ve been instructed by insurance companies or acting for government departments,” Kirsten says. “But I’m working for the plaintiff now and it’s great to have an understanding of the mindset from the other side.
“‘I have found it a more personally rewarding experience acting for injured workers.”
Kirsten says the COVID-19 lockdowns and working from home may result in a rise in claims for workplace injuries.
She says there’s the potential for people to be injured while working from home or remotely if they aren’t set up to work safely or don’t have the appropriate equipment.
There’s also likely to be an increase in claims for frontline staff, such as aged care, healthcare and construction workers who have worked through the lockdowns. They often work longer hours with reduced staff due to COVID isolation.
“We really haven’t seen the full impact of the pandemic yet,” Kirsten says. “But with working from home likely to be ongoing, there’s the potential for new types of claims to emerge.
“It’s important for employers to ensure their staff are safe when working from home or out of the office.”
As a partner, Kirsten is looking forward to contributing to the growth of the business and giving back to organisations supported by MEJ, such as the Canberra Hospital Foundation, Lifeline and Ronald McDonald House.
“I’m excited to be taking on a larger role in one of Canberra’s leading law firms in the workplace injury space,” she says.
“You’ll probably see me out and about more as I look forward to taking part in fundraising activities.”
The team at Maliganis Edwards Johnson has been protecting the rights of those injured since 1985.