Loading ...

Areas of Expertise

Darren is a trusted and valued consulting partner and legal adviser to employers in the corporate and government sectors. He is the head of our Workplace Law & Culture team. Darren is considered by many of his clients to be an integral part of their leadership team helping to deliver on important organisational change and effectiveness objectives. 

For over 30 years Darren has tirelessly served his clients best interests:

  • in the heat of litigation and in the cut and thrust of regulatory investigation

  • through negotiation, conciliation and mediation of complex industrial disputes and sensitive workplace grievances

  • in challenges to and in the protection of human resource management initiatives; employment attraction and retention systems; people diversity and effectiveness, workplace safety and senior management change processes.

Darren also provides creative workplace dispute resolution services as an accredited mediator and internationally trained negotiator. 

From his wealth of practical experience and specialist law and practice knowledge, Darren can skilfully encourage parties to get to the heart of an issue.  He does this sensitive to intersecting political, industrial, legal and commercial interests to find the right workplace solution.

Clients enjoy an ease of doing business with Darren.  He instils immediate confidence as an engaging, genuinely interested and intelligent lawyer who understands the broader dimensions, finer details and what materially matters. He prides himself on delivering results on time, within budget using smart ideas, pragmatic thought, and crisp, insightful advice.


  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons) (University of Technology Sydney)

  • Master of Laws (Hons) (University of Sydney)

  • Accredited Specialist – Employment and Industrial Law (Law Society of NSW)

  • Accredited Mediator (National Mediation Accreditation Scheme, NMAS)

  • Admitted Barrister (Supreme Court of NSW) 1993 and Admitted Solicitor (Supreme Court of NSW and High Court of Australia) 1994

  • Member - Industrial Relations Society of NSW (IRS NSW)

  • Member - Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia (IAMA) Resolution Institute

  • Member - Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA)

  • Member - Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI)

  • Member - Australian Labour Law Association (ALLA)

Specialist Accreditation is a structured peer to peer assessment process enabling legal practitioners to be recognised for their expertise.  To be accredited specialists they must pass a series of meticulous assessments on both legal knowledge and its application in practice. To retain their accreditation specialists must undertake significant additional professional development in their area of expertise each year.


What Darren's clients say:

Darren Gardner is …. fantastic – practical and commercially astute.”

“We prefer seeking Darren’s guidance.   He has a way of finding elegant solutions to complex workplace problems that sit well with our values and that actually work in the real world.”

“…I’m glad Darren is on our side.  He was able to take care of us in urgent court proceedings and then sorted out tense and complex negotiations with poise and confidence.  When everything was solved as quickly as it started, it was obvious to us that Darren had the respect of everyone else sitting at the negotiating table and on the bench to get a great deal approved.”


A word from Darren

I strive to find workable solutions that not only ensure the best interests of my clients, but also build valuable and lasting relationships and results that empower insight.

Whether a client is asking me for new ideas to improve day-to-day human resource effectiveness, or urgently needs me to step in and risk manage an organisational crisis event, I want my clients to immediately feel confident that I am with them to achieve the best result possible.


Career highlights 

  • Representing an international client involved in one of Australia’s largest Fair Work Ombudsman investigations. An immediate task was delivering up 3 weeks before Christmas almost a quarter of a million paper records and over 3 million wage and time entries.  This initial task was successfully completed by working collaboratively with the client, internal and external resources, and being attuned to larger public and staff relations issues.  Innovative in-house solutions developed at the same time could calculate complex pay rules and test regulator interpretations and allegations of award terms and conditions.  The case eventually settled in negotiations with the regulator with full voluntary rectification and demonstrated improved systems to ensure future industrial instrument compliance.

  • Working closely with a state owned enterprise’s management team to transition its entire workforce from an array of archaic State award conditions onto simplified and business appropriate federal enterprise agreement conditions. This had to be done before a ‘drop dead’ transition date and during looming legislative and government change.  This complex project was successfully completed on time and within budget to the satisfaction of staff, unions, industrial commissioners and government stakeholders.

  • Attending to an urgent 3am call for help from a client facing a tragic fatal workplace accident, called upon calm crisis management skills and compassionate treatment of affected co-workers being interviewed by work safety inspectors and police. Evidence required to satisfy law enforcement and work safety regulators was co-ordinated on-site and senior management were kept briefed on legal liability and case management.  In the end no charges were laid on demonstration of appropriate risk prevention measures being in place.

  • Redesigning and simplifying enterprise agreement terms for Australia’s largest airport. Working side by side, with senior management planning and financial management tools helped stage-structured communication sessions with management and airport stakeholders and staff.  This enhanced effective bargaining rounds with staff representatives.  A modern and simplified enterprise agreement was formed in time and within budget parameters.  The new agreement better aligned with corporate values, productivity improvements, service and safety objectives without dispute or disruption.

  • Recognised as a leading Labour and Employment Lawyer from 2016 - 2025 Editions by Best Lawyers Directory for Australia. Recommended by Doyle's Guide as a Leading Employment Lawyer (Employer Representation) in NSW, 2020 - 2023. Featured in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Legal 500 Asia Pacific and was mentioned as part of a 'stand-out' group of lawyers.


Specific areas of focus

  • Managing sensitive and complex workplace relations situations to find the best possible results which pass legal compliance stress tests and are robust enough to endure the continuing cycles of workplace improvement.

  • Expert advice and guidance to manage misbehaving or poor performing employees and improve workplace productivity and engagement.

  • Advising on executive arrivals and departures, including protecting against risks to confidential information, intellectual property, staff and customer non-solicitation and agreed restraint and non-competition obligations.

  • Advising on and interpreting contracts, industrial instruments, and legislation to fashion simple, compliant and workable policies and practices.

  • Advocacy in the regular and specialist courts in employment, anti-discrimination, and industrial tribunals and in workplace safety, coronial and administrative law inquiries and litigation.

  • Specialist experience in public sector dispute, performance, disciplinary, change and dismissal processes and proceedings, investigations and hearings

  • Designing effective and appropriately adapted workplace strategies for company and government boards of management, chief executives, ER and IR managers.

  • Specialist experience advising on and representing clients in equal employment opportunity, privacy, anti-discrimination and harassment and vilification prevention, complaint handling and litigation proceedings.

  • Restraint of trade and confidential information business protections in employment, remuneration and benefits contracts and policy drafting, enforcement and compliance strategies.

  • Conducting and advising on sound and defensible investigations of employee misconduct, crime, misadventure or workplace safety risk events.

  • Managing injured and ill employees and legal compliance.

  • Disciplinary and dismissal advice, including unfair, threatened and unlawful dismissal action; unlawful discrimination, adverse action, workplace change and redundancy negotiation and litigation.