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I've been providing legal services to the Mining and Resources Industry for 30 years.

It's what I do.

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Abigail Steed

Same, Same but Different – a Short History of the evolution of Steed Lawyers.

In 1993, fresh out of law school, I joined a small Adelaide firm called McDonald & Co and began my journey in the world of mining and resources law. Little did I know that that day, the Ides of March 1993, was to lead in a straight line to this day, more than 25 years later.

In the year 2000, despite the threat that the Y2K bug was planning to reset the world to the year 1900, and proudly clutching my bright yellow Nokia brick-phone, I became a partner in that same firm - which metamorphosed into McDonald Steed Lawyers.

2004 saw me sandwiched between the 2 Macs – Mike McDonald and Jane McGrath and we became McDonald Steed McGrath Lawyers: because that was what you did in those days and who wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes reciting the name of your firm every time you picked up the phone. It’s probably lucky that we never accumulated any more partners, or we would have had to move to bigger premises to fit the sign on the building.

Despite Mike’s departure from the firm in 2010, we kept the name.

It was not until one of our receptionists threatened to resign in 2016, having become fed up with repeating that mouthful 50 times a day, that we followed the trend and shortened the name to MSM Legal.

I was still with the firm; still negotiating native title agreements and still drafting joint ventures (although the name of the Mines Department had changed at least 4 times that I can recall during those 2 ½ decades).

You may see a trend developing here.

Now, many people I know are uncomfortable with change. You may be one of those. You may even by the type who goes so far as to actively avoid change.

I categorically deny that I am one of those people. I have gone right through change avoidance behaviour and am way out the other side. I’ve made avoiding change into an artform!!


I’m no inconsistent sedimentary sandstone. Some people may, (unkindly), say that I have begun to resemble old, weathered granite. But no! resistance to change is stronger than granite: which makes me…a….makes me a…….a…….. diamond!!

In December 2018, having stayed steadfastly (and some may say stubbornly) ensconced in the one firm for more than 25 years, my long-time business partner, colleague and friend, Jane McGrath was diagnosed with a serious illness and retired from practice.

Given that both the “M”s in the firm had departed it became apparent that it was time for me to move on too.

The end of the story is that, while it may seem that I have abandoned all my principles and become a change junky, this is not so! 


It’s all really just about outward appearances ……like the firm name…… and my morning coffee location …………. although, when I come to think about it-  it’s actually the same place I used to go, back in 1993…. but it’s changed names too….several times actually.


Just as I like it, most things remain the same - such as……

  • my phone number (which came with that first, bright yellow, Nokia brick-phone); and

  • that weird sense of excitement I get when that same phone  - (well OK, not exactly the same phone) - rings and someone on the other end has a problem or a tricky question or a complex joint venture they need drafted (and yes I know that makes me a great big nerd); or

  • that strange sense of satisfaction I still get from turning around an agreement or advice in record time and smashing expectations (I know, I know - nerd – but I’m just weird that way).

AND the best things about this “adjustment” (not change!) to my working life?


Well, here are some:

  • number of interruptions from staff asking silly and/or annoying questions (or both) – 0

  • time spent managing other people – 0

  • travel time to work – 0

  • time wasted arguing about the temperature control on the office air-conditioner – 0

  • number of people to be consulted about said temperature control – 0

  • level of comfort afforded by having sole control over said air-conditioner……well you get the picture…..

So for me, being Steed Lawyers, means that everything stays the same but just gets better.

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