Withers enters Australian tax market through alliance with tax boutique BLW
Withers is launching in Australia under the name Withers SBL. This company is an alliance with the tax boutique Balazs Lazanas & Welch and SBL Shmith. Withers is also making a direct hire for this new practice – Rita Chowdhury – who is an immigration lawyer with leadership experience at Deloitte and Bakers.
BLW was started by three former tax partners of Baker & McKenzie, John Balazs, Gina Lazanas and Paul Welch (who is no longer with the firm). Th focus is on income tax, GST, dispute resolution and trusts and estates.
Gina Lazanas is amongst the mostly highly regarded practitioners in GST, a fact attested to by her appointment as the Chairperson of the Taxation Institute’s GST Subcommittee. Before joining Baker & McKenzie as a partner, Gina was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and before that at Firmstone & Feil.
Gina’s extensive experience with the old sales tax, where litigation was a common way of resolving disputes with the ATO, has translated well into the GST environment and Gina has found herself at the forefront of a number of complex cases that are testing the limits of the GST.
John Balazs was a tax partner at Baker & McKenzie, Sydney for 10 years from 1998, and the senior tax partner for most of that time. John has established himself as a leading practitioner in income tax, with a particular emphasis on international tax.
A graduate of the University of Sydney, John has a Master of Laws (First Class Honours).
Prior to joining Baker & McKenzie, John was a partner of Ernst & Whinney and then Ernst & Young before joining Price Waterhouse Europe as a partner. Whilst with Price Waterhouse, John led the tax practice in Hungary in the period immediately following the end of communism.