End of Financial Year Update

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of the 2018-2019 Financial Year. As part of our process of continual review, we have paused to reflect on MPS Law’s growth and achievements in the past twelve months.

Performance

In the 2018-2019 financial year, the most profound examples of MPS Law’s performance were:

  • In native title; the negotiation of a large-scale land settlement.

  • In commercial law; the ongoing advice on commercial transactions and legal compliance for Aboriginal corporations and its associated commercial and charitable entities.

  • In dispute resolution; the continued success of utilising mediation to resolve intra-Indigenous disputes and native title matters, with MPS Law participating in over thirty days of mediation around Australia. In a space known for delays, lack of resources and imbalances of power, MPS Law is reshaping the way such disputes are dealt with in the Federal Court of Australia. 

  • In strategic partnering; the negotiation of a project in South Australia’s Far North involving several Aboriginal corporations, Commonwealth and State Government departments.

Practice milestones

MPS Law’s clients continue to grow organically, nation-wide, by exceeding client expectations and meeting the challenges of working in remote and isolated locations with clients who may speak English as a second language. Despite these challenges, MPS Law facilitated over thirty meetings with traditional owners in the 2018-2019 financial year.

To serve that growing client base, MPS Law:

  • Established a larger office in the Adelaide CBD;

  • Upgraded IT infrastructure and security;

  • Implemented state-of-the-art practice management software;

  • Appointed interstate consultants;

  • Employed two additional lawyers;

  • Employed additional support staff.

MPS Law also acquired a sole practitioner practice, based in South Australia, which also specialises in native title. This will likely double MPS Law’s work within the next two years.

Milestones for MPS Law’s success can’t be measured by the usual commercial metrics. Indeed, the majority of MPS Law’s clients rely on pro bono services or limited government funding which is substantially below commercial rates and court scales. In any event, for the 2018-2019 financial year, MPS Law recorded approximately 1800 billable hours and 300 pro bono hours.

Contributions to profession and commitment to the community

Achievements in this space are difficult. We know our Indigenous clients prefer face-to-face engagement, from meetings in lounge rooms, to their local community halls, on their country and on their terms. This resulted in MPS Law travelling to opposite corners of the country, from meetings in remote Western Australia, far north South Australia and the Torres Strait, covering approximately 150,000 kms – that’s enough to travel around Australia’s coastline almost six times!

MPS Law continues to develop native title law, including assisting clients to understand the High Court first native title compensation decision, handed down earlier this year. This includes, for example, contributing to community radio to provide a plain-English explanation of the decision and what it means for Indigenous communities.

MPS Law Principal Michael Pagsanjan also authored the handbook for interns for the Aurora Program – a national program that places legal and anthropological interns in native title organisations. MPS Law also observed greater media coverage of a previous project that Michael was involved with relating the recognition of the Waterloo Bay massacre on South Australia’s West Coast.

Some of these advancements resulted in MPS Law’s Principal Michael Pagsanjan being awarded the 2018 Young Lawyer of the Year for contributions to the profession and community.

In May 2019, Michael Pagsanjan was shortlisted as a finalist in the InDaily 40-under-40 awards, recognising South Australia’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs under the age of forty.

Feedback is telling us we’re on the right track, with some recent testimonials commenting that:

  • “Widi Mob have no hesitation in recommending MPS Law and wish to express our satisfaction in the service we have received that we consider to be of the highest level and is above and beyond anything we were expecting…” Kathleen Pinkerton, Widi Mob native title applicant.

  • “I think it is safe to say that we are impressed with the law firms [sic] effort so far in getting the desired outcome for all Mualgal. “ Iona Manas, Mualgal RNTBC Chairperson.

  • “Heading up MPS Law [Michael Pagsanjan] has fashioned it into a vibrant practice and a shining example of how a boutique law practice can bring credit to us all within the legal profession.” Greg McIntyre, Senior Counsel.

  • “MPS Law is unique in its ability to match quality legal advice, cultural awareness and collaborative lawyering. It is for this reason that I have no hesitation in referring people to his practice.” Leah Cameron, Principal Solicitor, Marrawah Law.

  • “Michael Pagsanjan, the principal of MPS Law, is a pre-eminent native title practitioner with a national practice… I hold the firm in the highest regard, and unhesitatingly recommend the firm…” David Yarrow, Barrister.

  • “The indigenous people of Australia are fortunate to have such a bright, dedicated lawyer in their corner when combatting large, well-resourced parties who are their typical adversaries.” Anthony Neal, Queens Counsel.

  • “The product provided by MPS Law has been of a uniformly high quality and delivered on time and on budget…MPS Law is a beacon of best practise and propriety.” Tim Wishart, Principal Legal Officer, Queensland South Native Title Services.

For more information, contact Michael Pagsanjan at michael@mpslaw.com.au.