Sara Summerbell

Special Counsel
Baker & McKenzie

Biography

Sara Summerbell is a special counsel in the Employment Practice Group. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Sara was a principal and managing counsel for BHP, one of the world's leading energy and resources companies. With BHP, Sara worked in the United States, across South America, Asia Pacific and the UK. Before working in-house, she spent seven years at a top-tier international law firm specializing in employment and labor relations law.

An experienced presenter and legal educator, Sara has developed and facilitated extensive training programs to executives, HR teams, in-house counsel and industry groups on a wide range of employment law issues.

Sara has appeared in Federal and Victorian Courts as well as tribunals including the Fair Work Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Practice Focus

With in-depth, global in-house experience, Sara understands the challenges faced by HR teams, managers and legal counsel. Sara provides practical and commercial advice across the employment relationship cycle, from recruitment to termination of employment as well as inclusion and diversity, industrial relations and employment-related litigation. Sara advises a range of clients and has been seconded to the mining, consumer goods and not-for-profit sectors, as well as to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Representative Legal Matters

Prior to joining the Firm, Sara acted on the following matters:

  • Advised multinational employers on the development of employment agreements, executive employment contracts and policies for effective workplace management. 
  • Advised a global mining company on diversity and inclusion strategies for gender-balance aspirations in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Represented an international financial institution against allegations of gender and race discrimination.
  • Acted for a Federal agency in relation to breach of employment laws by employers. 
  • Acted for a multinational employer regarding the dismissal of a senior executive related to sexual harassment claims. 
  • Represented a global airline during work stoppages across airports and ensuing Federal court litigation. 
  • Advised a multinational employer on employment and employee benefits issues related to the acquisition of a consulting business in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Advised a health industry employer in relation to management of allegations of misconduct by a senior executive. 
  • Advised a resources company on employment and industrial relations issues related to renegotiation of enterprise agreements. 
  • Represented a global consumer goods company in relation to adverse action claims. 

Professional Honors

Member of In-house Team of the Year, Australasian Law Awards 2018

Admissions

  • High Court of Australia (2008)
  • Supreme Court of Victoria~Australia (2007)

Education

  • University of Melbourne (LL.B.) (2007)
  • University of London (B.A.) (2007)
  • University of Melbourne (Diploma Modern Languages (Advanced German))

Languages

  • English
  • German