Meet our Corporate Members: Rodd Levy, Herbert Smith Freehills
In this instalment of our Corporate Member profile series, we meet Rodd Levy, Managing Partner (Melbourne) at Herbert Smith Freehills, an international law firm with a history as old as the Library’s.
‘Herbert Smith Freehills is an international law firm with 26 offices around the world. We aim to provide our clients with innovative and market-leading solutions to their legal issues. I’m pleased to say that the Melbourne office is the oldest office in the network. It was founded in 1853 during the gold rush, so we are around the same age as the State Library. We are proud of our history and lengthy connections to Melbourne businesses, some of which go back to the 19th century. The firm incorporated BHP and floated it on the stock exchange in 1885. Today, BHP is still one of the firm’s largest clients.
‘Like many, I came to the Library to study when I was a student 40 years ago. I loved the La Trobe Reading Room, the interesting books on the shelves, the art works and the history of the building. I was in awe of William Strutt’s huge painting of the 1851 bushfire descending on Melbourne, which hung in the Library.
‘I have two stand-out memories of the Library. One is being in the Library for Melbourne’s White Night a few years ago and seeing the animated light displays moving around the La Trobe Reading Room – the room was transformed into an undersea experience. The other was when I asked the librarians to help me research the history of a vintage car I have. I knew when the car left England but didn’t know when it arrived in Melbourne. Within a short time, they sent me old newspaper clippings showing when the ship carrying the car docked on the Yarra River in June 1920. With that information, I knew the car had been in Melbourne 100 years ago.
‘Herbert Smith Freehills shares the Library’s commitment to making Melbourne a great city of the world. I also think that we are both organisations that strive to provide a place for a wide variety of people and treat them all with respect.
‘Being a Corporate Member enables us to support the Library as a great Melbourne institution and gives us access to fascinating events, launches, lunches and dinners and the opportunity to meet fellow Melburnians. When an event is coming up, we offer places to people around the firm. This enables a huge number of our people to attend and participate. One event that comes to mind is the private viewing of highlights from Dr Emmerson’s rare book collection, with books that were 500 years old. It was a real privilege to be there to see that firsthand.’
- Rodd Levy