Meet our experts

Ben Phi

Odette McDonald

Tim Finney

James Hyden

Jenna Alexander

Roop Sandhu

Brett Spiegel

Jeremy Zimet

Helen Leaf

Cameron Myers

Blake O’Connor

Jack Gracie

Muhammad Arayne

Natasha Clarke

Madeleine Tricarico

Managing Director

Ben Phi is one of Australia’s leading plaintiff class action lawyers, having achieved almost half a billion dollars in settlements.

While he has specialised in shareholder class actions, Ben’s expertise extends across all areas of complex, high value and multi-party litigation. This includes financial advice and product claims, shareholder and director disputes, executive employment litigation, and common law personal injury claims.

In his previous role, Ben oversaw the growth and management of one of Australia’s most successful class action teams. As Managing Director, Ben is ultimately responsible for the firm’s strategy, policies and procedures.

His aim is to ensure that Phi Finney McDonald becomes synonymous with strong claims brought with skill and efficiency, and is recognised for its impeccable client service. By creating a dynamic, flexible and fun workplace culture, he intends to make Phi Finney McDonald the employer of choice for talented lawyers and support staff that want to make the world a better place.

As a Principal lawyer, Ben will play an active role in the firm’s litigation practice, and in the supervision and professional development of its junior lawyers.

Accolades and Awards

  • Doyles Guide 2017, Lawyer (Recommended), Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution – Victoria
  • Doyles Guide 2016, Lawyer (Recommended), Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution – Victoria
  • Chambers Guide 2016, Notable Practitioner (Slater and Gordon), Plaintiff Litigation
  • Maurice Blackburn Award for Class Actions (2013), University of Melbourne Law Masters
  • Holding Redlich Prize for Labour Law (2002), Australian National University

Legal Publications

  • Ben Phi and Odette Phi, ‘Arming the the courts in collective redress – a move to “Australian-style” class actions in the UK?’ (2017), Civil Justice Quarterly 197, Oxford University.
  • Ben Phi and Tim Finney, ‘Establishing causation in Australian shareholder class actions’ (2015), Precedent (Sydney, NSW), No. 129, Jul/Aug 2015

Education

  • BA, LLB (Hons), Australian National University
  • GradDip Legal Studies, University of Melbourne

Director

Odette McDonald is an experienced senior class actions specialist, who has litigated complex and high-profile claims in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Odette has represented thousands of people in a number of successful class actions, which have collectively delivered settlements in excess of $350 million. Her class action, group litigation and multi-party litigation expertise is broad, and includes shareholder class actions, financial advice and product claims, personal injuries, consumer actions, environmental and natural disaster litigation, and debenture trustee class actions. She also has a wealth of general commercial litigation and pro bono experience.

Prior to co-founding Phi Finney McDonald, Odette was a Practice Group Leader in the London Group Litigation and Melbourne Class Actions departments of a large plaintiff law firm.

Odette’s focus at Phi Finney McDonald is on identifying cases, managing litigation projects, progressing the professional development of lawyers and support staff, and contributing to the creation of a dynamic and supportive workplace.

Accolades and Awards

  • APS Prize (2005), Australian Psychological Society
  • RG Wilson Scholarship (2005), University of Melbourne
  • Dwight Final Assessment Prize (2005), University of Melbourne

Legal Publications

  • Ben Phi and Odette Phi, ‘Arming the courts in collective redress – a move to “Australian-style” class actions in the UK?’ (2017),Civil Justice Quarterly 197, Oxford University.
  • Odette McDonald, ‘Corporate trustee duties under the Corporations Act – the Fincorp Class Action’ (2011) 14(2) REP

Education

  • BA (Psych) (Hons), LLB, University of Melbourne (first place in Honours program)
  • LLM (in progress), University of Melbourne

Director

Tim Finney is an experienced senior plaintiff class action lawyer who has supervised legal teams on several large commercial class actions.

Tim specialises in shareholder class actions, having worked on a dozen such cases including claims against insurers and company auditors. He also has substantial experience in complex financial services and financial product litigation, including claims against banks, large trustee companies, financial advisors and brokers. Prior to co-founding Phi Finney McDonald, Tim managed the commercial class actions group in one of Australia’s largest plaintiff law firms.

At Phi Finney McDonald, Tim’s supervises complex litigation with an approach that combines high quality legal work with efficient case management and an emphasis on strategy. As a manager of litigation teams, he is focused on encouraging junior and mid-level lawyers to develop their skills and confidence in a challenging but supportive team-based environment.

Accolades and Awards

  • Doyles Guide 2017, Lawyer (Recommended), Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution – Victoria
  • Slater and Gordon Lawyers Chair Award Winner 2016, ‘Take the Lead’ Category
  • Monash University Law Prize for Law, Gender and Feminism, 2006

Legal Publications

  • Ben Phi and Tim Finney, ‘Establishing causation in Australian shareholder class actions’ (2015), Precedent (Sydney, NSW), No. 129, Jul/Aug 2015

Education

  • LLB (Hons), BA (Hons), MA, Monash University
  • GDLP, College of Law

Forensic Accountant and Finance Manager

James Hyden is an experienced accounting professional who has provided consulting expert services on several large commercial class actions.

James has accumulated more than 12 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience in the United States and Australia, and has worked on several class actions including claims against insurers, directors and trustees.

James started his career at Grant Thornton, before moving to KordaMentha where he provided accounting and expert services to high profile law firms and their clients. James then worked as an investigating accountant in the class actions group of one of Australia’s largest plaintiff law firms.

At Phi Finney McDonald, James draws on his accounting and forensics background to investigate claims and to assist lawyers in understanding complex accounting issues. James also supports the management of the firm’s business in his role as Finance Manager.

Education

  • BBus(Acc), RMIT
  • Grad Dip (ICAA)

Practice Support Manager

Jenna Alexander is a Practice Support Manager, with almost 10 years of experience in a client-facing environment.

Jenna has exceptional organisational skills and a proven track record of nurturing high performing teams. Working in the tertiary education sector, Jenna provided leadership and support to staff and championed the personal development of members of her teams. A natural problem solver with a keen eye for detail, Jenna also lead the implementation of new systems and processes, tracked and analysed data points and statistics, and ensured up-to-date internal documentation.

As Practice Support Manager at Phi Finney McDonald, Jenna works closely with the Principals, ensuring impeccable practice standards and managing procurement and supplier relationships. Jenna also maintains the precedent library and practice database, and performs a range of HR functions within the business.

Principal Lawyer

Roop Sandhu is an experienced litigation lawyer, who has worked on many hard-fought and complex class actions.

Roop has experience in a wide variety of class actions, including claims involving financial advice, institutional abuse, debenture trusts, securities, property developments, and consumer issues. He has been involved in class actions in the Federal Court, the NSW Supreme Court, and the Victorian Supreme Court.

Roop also has broad general litigation experience. He has acted for hundreds of victims of asbestos diseases, helping them to recover damages from the companies that exposed them to asbestos. He has also run professional negligence claims, employment disputes, and superannuation disputes.

Over his career, Roop has worked on matters that have collectively delivered settlements in excess of $100 million.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Roop was a principal lawyer in the class action department of a large plaintiff law firm. Roop works on Phi Finney McDonald’s existing suite of cases, as well as identifying and investigating new matters. He is based in Sydney.

Accolades and awards

  • Slater and Gordon Lawyers Chair Award Winner (2016)
  • Lexis Nexis Prize for Litigation 1 (2002), UNSW
  • Lexis Nexis Prize for Taxation Law (2003), UNSW

Education

  • LLB and BCom, UNSW
  • GDLP, College of Law

Publications

Principal Lawyer

Brett Spiegel is a senior class action litigator with 20 years of legal experience, and a commitment to bringing justice to those hurt by corporate malfeasance.

A qualified lawyer in Australia and the United States, Brett has prosecuted complex and challenging cases in the fields of public health, mass tort, institutional abuse, the environment, and shareholder claims, achieving over $400m in judgments and settlements. His Australian class action experience includes claims in respect of Thalidomide, Vioxx, Manus Island, Brookland Greens, and Fairbridge Farm School, and a number of shareholder class actions.

In addition to his experience at a large Australian plaintiff law firm and a U.S. commercial law firm, Brett served as a Trial Lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on the landmark case of U.S. v Philip Morris, and as a Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

As a Principal Lawyer at Phi Finney McDonald, Brett applies his passion and expertise to achieve the best possible results for our clients.

Accolades and Awards

  • U.S. Department of Justice, Junk Yard Dog Award for tenacity in litigation
  • U.S. Department of Justice, 2-time winner of the Civil Division Merit Award

Education

  • JD, Duke University
  • BA, University of Pennsylvania

Special Counsel

Jeremy Zimet is an experienced litigator, with significant track record in commercial litigation and class actions.

Jeremy specialises in shareholder and consumer law class actions and has acted for thousands of claimants in complex, multi-party disputes.

Jeremy is also a media and communications law expert, who has advised and acted for high profile individuals, government ministers, directors and companies throughout Australia, on matters relating to defamation/libel, reputational risk management, pre-publication advice and privacy law.

Jeremy is a frequent media commentator on issues relating to media and communications law.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Jeremy was a Senior Associate in the commercial and class actions department of a large plaintiff law firm where he specialised in class actions and defamation law.

Education

  • BA (Intl Studies), LLB, University of Melbourne
  • GDLP, College of Law

Senior Associate

Helen Leaf is an experienced major projects litigator, working in both commercial litigation and class actions.

Helen Leaf has acted in a range of high profile matters, including some of the largest document-intensive cases in Victoria. Having project managed all aspects of some significant multi-party commercial litigation actions, Helen is adept at working through the nuances of civil procedure.

Helen has a particular interest in connecting with the needs of claimants to facilitate and improve access to justice. In this regard Helen has undertaken a Masters of Social Work (Qualifying), and advocated as a social worker and lawyer for support of individuals who have experienced major trauma, and plaintiffs pursuing claims through various courts of law.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Helen worked on the administration of a major class action settlement distribution scheme at Maurice Blackburn. Helen commenced her legal career in the commercial litigation department of Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst), and has proven herself as a versatile operator.

As a Senior Associate at Phi Finney McDonald, Helen is working on various class actions, mentoring more junior team members, and assisting with practice needs.

Education

  • LLB (Hons), University of Melbourne
  • BA, University of Melbourne
  • MSW(Q), Monash University

Associate

Cameron Myers is a versatile litigator who has worked on high-profile, large-scale matters in Australia and the United Kingdom.

His group litigation experience includes bushfire litigation, financial advice and product claims, employment disputes and industrial disease cases. He also has a wealth of common law personal injury litigation experience most recently having acted for UK survivors of the drug thalidomide.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Cameron was an Associate in the London Group Litigation and Melbourne Class Actions departments of a large plaintiff law firm.

As an Associate, Cameron focuses on progressing the firm’s litigation projects through the production of high quality legal work, while also playing an active role in the supervision and professional development of the firm’s junior lawyers and paralegal teams.

Education

  • LLB, BA, Monash University
  • GDLP, College of Law

Lawyer

Blake O’Connor is a determined litigator focused on protecting his client’s interests.

Blake is a lawyer in Phi Finney McDonald’s Sydney office and works with the team to secure the best possible outcome for clients in large, complex commercial litigation. He has acted on bet-the-company cases and is experienced in commercial litigation, equity and insurance.

Blake’s goal is to ensure that client’s interests are forcefully promoted, regardless of the opposition. He is particularly interested in using the law as a tool to right wrongs.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Blake worked as a lawyer in an Australian commercial litigation firm on some of Australia’s largest corporate disputes. He was previously tipstaff to Justice Ball of the NSW Supreme Court and worked on complex insurance cases at a Lloyds of London Syndicate.

ACCOLADES AND AWARDS

  • 1st Place, Commercial Law, University of Sydney
  • LexisNexis Prize for Academic Excellence (2012) University of Sydney

 

LEGAL PUBLICATIONS

  • Damages in Securities Class Actions, 2017, ExpertsDirect Class Action Series.
  • Determining the Cause of Conduct in Class Actions, 2017, ExpertsDirect Class Action Series.
  • Common Fund Orders and Access to Justice, 2017, ExpertsDirect Class Action Series.
  • Competing Class Actions: Judicial Remedies for Overlapping Classes, 2017, ExpertsDirect Class Action Series.
  • The Risk of Exclusion: Pitfalls of Irrelevant or Prejudicial Expert Evidence, 2016, ExpertsDirect Webinar Series.
  • Understanding Privilege in Difficult Jurisdictions, 2016, ExpertsDirect Webinar Series.
  • Expert Evidence – Lessons Learnt from Adverse Cases, 2016, ExpertsDirect Webinar Series.
  • The Changing Role of the Expert in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 2016, ExpertsDirect Webinar Series.
  • Subjective vs Objective Expert Evidence and the use of “Junk Science”, 2016, ExpertsDirect Webinar Series.
  • The Role of Hospital Administrators in Medical Indemnity Programs, 2012, College of Medical Administrators.

 

EDUCATION

 

  • Dip Law, University of Sydney, Legal Profession Admission Board.
  • LLM (in progress), University of Sydney

Lawyer

As a plaintiff class action lawyer, Jack Gracie is keen to ensure that all individuals are afforded access to justice.

Jack is a recent graduate who has pursued a special interest in class action litigation through his studies and since his entry into private practice.

In his previous role at Maurice Blackburn, Jack was responsible for managing individual claims against banks and financial advisers arising from negligent and inappropriate financial advice. He has worked on shareholder class actions against financial institutions, insurers, vocational education providers and construction companies.

Jack’s experience has shown him that strong advocacy is required if the legal system is to work for everyone – not just for those who can afford it. To this end, class actions are an essential mechanism through which individuals who suffer damage can seek justice and recover compensation. His abiding interest in the role of litigation funders in facilitating access to justice is informed by his university studies.

At Phi Finney McDonald, Jack investigates new class actions, assists in the efficient conduct of ongoing matters, and vigorously pursues social and economic justice for his clients.

Education

  • LLB (Hons), Australian National University
  • GDLP, College of Law

Publications

  • Dissertation – Command and Control: Judicial Paternalism and Liberalism with regards to the Exercise of Control in Third Party Funded Proceedings (First Class Honours, 2016)

Law Clerk

Muhammad Arayne has a wealth of experience across a number of class actions and general litigation disputes.

Muhammad’s class action experience includes securities claims, bushfire litigation and debenture claims.

Prior to joining Phi Finney McDonald, Muhammad spent eight years working at one of Australia’s largest plaintiff law firms, initially in its finance department before commencing work as a class actions paralegal.

Muhammad has a degree in economics, and is currently undertaking his degree in law. In additional to his multidisciplinary academic background, Muhammad brings to Phi Finney McDonald invaluable legal research, claim investigation, client service, legal administration, quantum assessment and financial accounting skills.

Muhammad initially joined Phi Finney McDonald as a Paralegal, and is now a Law Clerk managing other Paralegals within the team.

Education

  • BA (Econ), University of Melbourne
  • LLB, La Trobe University (in progress)

Legal assistant

Natasha Clarke is a legal assistant with nearly 15 years’ experience across personal injury, common law and commercial litigation.

Natasha started her career at a boutique law firm and has since worked for a number of larger plaintiff law firms across New South Wales and Victoria. Most recently, Natasha spent close to ten years providing assistance in the commercial litigation and class action departments of a large plaintiff law firm where her experience enabled her to assist with the creation and implementation of numerous procedures aimed to increase efficiency for the benefit of the clients. At Phi Finney McDonald, Natasha provides general assistance across a range of files, as well as assisting with day to day financial management.

Graduate

Maddie initially joined Phi Finney McDonald’s Melbourne office as a paralegal in 2017 and is now working as a graduate securing the best possible outcomes for clients in large, complex commercial litigation.

Education

  • LLB, BA, Monash University
  • GDLP (in progress), College of Law

In addition to producing high quality work, Maddie also strives to deliver efficient and cost-effective services to clients in order to increase access to justice for all. She developed this understanding and passion through her previous legal experience at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. The roles performed by Maddie at Phi Finney McDonald include investigating new class actions and assisting in the efficient conduct of ongoing matters. Her exceptional legal research and client service ensures that these roles are performed to a high standard.