Catholic Church’s go-to solicitor lawyers up for battle with Corrs

Australian Financial Review [Sydney, NSW, Australia]

October 27, 2022

By Michael Pelly

The Catholic Church’s go-to lawyer for child abuse claims, Richard Leder of Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has engaged top silk Allan Myers, KC, as legal action looms over his exit from the firm.

Leder has been negotiating with the Corrs leadership since the firm alerted church leaders in July that it would no longer handle abuse claims for the archdioceses of Melbourne and Sydney.

This gutted Leder’s practice: about 80 per cent of it was work for the church.

It explains why he is playing hardball on an exit package, given the options outlined by Corrs CEO Gavin MacLaren in an interview with The Australian Financial Review do not seem to be on the table.

MacLaren explained that partners in Leder’s position would be given the opportunity to rebuild their practice in other areas with the firm’s support and a guarantee of income protection for up to three years. He called this “the preferred option”.

The second option was for Corrs to establish a firm that would do the work for the client under a different brand. The third was to help affected partners “transition to a competitor”.

With Myers now on board – Leder is also being advised by Leon Zwier, of Arnold Bloch Leibler – we can safely assume negotiations have not proceeded smoothly. Myers is somewhat of a “Captain Catholic” and is a member of the Catholic lay religious order Knights of Malta. He even did his articles at Corrs (when it was Corrs & Corr) before going to the bar in 1975.

Myers established himself as one of the nation’s leading commercial silks, and his canny investing made him a regular fixture on the Financial Review Rich List.

Leder is alleging that Corrs undermined his position, and his ability to generate fees because he could no longer act for a long-standing client.

Leder played a lead role as Corrs devised the Melbourne Response to church abuse claims in 1996. The firm took over the abuse work from other lawyers in Sydney when then-archbishop George Pell moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 2001.

While the Sydney archdiocese has engaged Dentons, Melbourne is yet to find new lawyers. Leder is talking to a number of suitors, but it might drag out a bit longer as he seeks his pound of flesh from Corrs.

Michael Pelly is the legal editor, based in our Sydney newsroom. He has been a senior adviser to federal and state attorneys-general and written two books, one a biography of former High Court Chief Justice Murray Gleeson. Email Michael at