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Australia > Construction > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

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  2. Leading individuals
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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Kate Bower - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Vanessa McBride - Clayton Utz

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Ashurst’s ‘large, flexible’ team ‘provides prompt first-class service’ and covers a broad range of front-end and back-end work across the transport, social infrastructure, energy and resources, sports and telecoms sectors for both public and private sector clients. The team, whose key figures are Grant Rowlands and Lee McDonald, has been able to secure roles on major projects such as advising Transport for NSW on the A$11bn Sydney Metro City & Southwest Project – Australia’s largest public transport project, as well as the country's largest construction project. It also acted for the successful Evolution Rail consortium joint venture consisting of Downer EDI Rail and CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles on the A$2bn High Capacity Metro Trains Project. The Pilbara Ports Authority received advice on the development of a new A$1.5bn port, which will be Western Australia’s first transhipment port for iron ore export. On the disputes side, the team is rated as ‘top-level with deep experience and skill in the application of all methods of dispute resolution, including international arbitration’. Georgia Quick ‘provides a very high level of service’ and is ‘highly attuned and responsive to client objectives’; Richard Guit and Michael Harrison are also recommended.

Clayton Utz has ‘a remarkably strong standing’ in advising government and state entities. These include Transport for NSW, VicRoads, and the Department of Defence. The team is advising the Commonwealth of Australia on the potential development and operation of Western Sydney Airport, the first major greenfield airport development in the past decade; it continues to advise the Queensland government on the A$1.6bn construction of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, and Roads & Maritime Services on the A$3.9bn Pacific Highway upgrade, currently Australia’s largest regional infrastructure construction project. A large number of partners come in for praise, among them renowned practice head Sergio Capelli, Nicholas Tsirogiannis, Marko Misko, disputes expert Frank Bannon and Dale Brackin. Associate Vanessa McBride is also singled out.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s ‘service level is high, in particular in relation to response times, industry knowledge and strength in depth of team’. The practice has been bolstered by Jane Hider arriving from DLA Piper; she brought a strong government client portfolio. The team advised the Victoria Police on the development of a new police precinct and headquarters, the first purpose-built police property in Melbourne’s CBD in 70 years. On the contentious side, it is representing Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in proceedings regarding the construction of a new coal export terminal, with claims and counterclaims totalling A$26m. Chris Ryder and Andrew Stephenson are recommended; ‘commercial and strategic’ practice head Ben Davidson is ‘innovative’, and the ‘highly experiencedRod Dann is ‘a clear thinker’. Frances Williams, Michael Earwaker and the ‘commercial and results-focusedMatthew Muir also come in for praise. BAM International Australia and Lendlease count among the team’s key clients.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ ‘level of service is excellent’, and partners ‘make themselves available at all times’. The team advised Lendlease on the C1 Melbourne Quarter and the Y3 Victoria Harbour developments, and it remains the lead construction law adviser to the NorthConnex project company on the NorthConnex project, which has a construction value of A$2.7bn. Hamish Macpherson and David Templeman jointly head the team, which includes Dan Dragovic, who is recommended for contentious work; associate Kate Bower is also singled out. However, the practice has seen the departure of eight partners to White & Case’s newly set up operations in Australia, among them Andrew Clark, Tim Power, Alan Rosengarten, Joanne Draper and Jared Muller, which has prompted the promotion to partner of Andrew Griffiths, Erin Wyeth and Richard Wilkinson.

King & Wood Mallesons’ eight-partner team handles the entire range of construction matters from front-end to back-end work. The team acted for CPB Contractors as the successful design and construction (D&C) contractor on stage two of the A$420m extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, and for Infrastructure New South Wales on the A$300m construction of the 30,000-seat Western Sydney Stadium, part of a A$1.6 billion strategy to improve sporting infrastructure in the state. In other work, Brookfield instructs the team on its Wynyard Place project, a A$500m mixed use development in Sydney’s CBD. The practice regularly receives instructions from key industry players such as Laing O’Rourke Australia, CIMIC Group and John Holland, but also acts for government bodies, such as the Department of Defence. The growing group has recently been bolstered by two partner promotions and includes James Forrest, Scott Budd, Juliana Jorissen and Peter Pether, who focuses on back-end work.

Minter Ellison covers a wide range of sectors, among them water, transport and social infrastructure; it also handles commercial, industrial and residential development, where it regularly acts for governments, financiers and private sector consortia. Government clients include Infrastructure NSW, VicRoads and the Queensland state government. The team also acts for construction clients such as Lendlease, Multiplex, Laing O’Rourke and Dexus. The team advised Corrective Services NSW and iNSW to deliver a fit-for-purpose, fully outsourced correctional centre in Grafton, and acted for AMP Services in relation to the A$1.1bn Quay Quarter Tower development, involving the redevelopment of AMP’s flagship 50 Bridge Street headquarters into a 49-storey office building. Brisbane Airport instructed the team regarding the construction of a new runway. Practice head Pamela Jack is recommended along with Stewart Nankervis, Michael Creedon, Julie Whitehead, Elizabeth McKechnie and Nicole Green. Special counsel Eve Eisman is also singled out. Philip Greenham retired from the partnership.

Allens has been kept busy with social infrastructure as well as commercial development construction matters, and has secured roles advising government departments on a number of matters. It acted for Sydney Airport on the proposed A$5bn second Sydney airport at Badgery’s Creek, while the Queensland Treasury and Metro North Hospital and Health Service received advice on the state-led procurement and subsequent development of the A$1.1bn Herston Quarter project – the redevelopment of a five-hectare site adjacent to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital that also includes some of Queensland’s oldest heritage buildings. Leighton O’Brien heads the team, which includes Nicholas Ng and Nick Rudge, who focuses on construction disputes.

Baker McKenzie’s five-partner practice handles a wide range of construction matters, covering commercial offices, shopping centres, industrial plants, hotels and greenfield sites, among other kinds of construction work. The team covers front- and back-end work, including construction and engineering litigation as well as alternative dispute resolution. It represented Built Environs WA in a A$250m dispute arising out of the T1 Perth Domestic and International Airport project, and acted for Cbus Property in relation to the $1.25bn construction of the Collins Arch project in the Melbourne CBD. The government of the Territory of Wallis and Futuna instructed the team on the construction of an offshore subsea telecoms cable with the government of Samoa. Geoff Wood is recommended alongside Anthony Whelan, Leigh Duthie and Aleisa Crepin.

DLA Piper has a focus on cross-border construction work and covers the full range of sectors, including transport, social infrastructure and property development. It advised Acciona Ferrovial on its bid for the design and construction of the tunnel and stations for Melbourne’s new metro system, a construction project that involves a A$6bn metro tunnel including five new underground stations. H.R.L Morrison & Co and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec received advice in their roles as consortium participants in the A$380m Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre expansion, which involves the construction of 20,000sqm of multi-purpose event space. Fremantle Football Club instructed the practice on the A$120m design, construction and maintenance of the Australian Football League (AFL) sporting oval. Noted lawyers include John Gallagher, David Harley, Richard Edwards (whose focus is on contentious work), David Nancarrow and Jim Delkousis. Jane Hider left to join Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

At Henry Davis York, ‘value for money and commerciality are both strong suits’, and the team delivers ‘sound technical knowledge and quality advice’ while being ‘more mindful of costs than others’. It advised GPT and Lendlease on the A$350m Sunshine Plaza Shopping centre upgrade, and MTR Corporation and United Group Rail Services in the A$1.3bn Sydney Metro Northwest project, which involves the excavation of twin tunnels and the construction of a sky train. On the contentious side, the team acted in a contractual dispute for the City of Sydney in A$5m proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales regarding a landmark public building. Kevin Arkwright is recommended along with head of team Graham Read and Alex Whiteside, who provides a ‘high level of service’ and displays ‘sound understanding of business needs’. Michael Bampton left to join Gadens. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

Norton Rose Fulbright regularly acts for project developers, owners, financiers, domestic and international investors and construction companies. It continues to act for Asia Pacific Development Partners and Star Mountain Plaza in relation to the $495m construction of the Star Mountain Plaza development in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Calvary Health Care Adelaide instructed the team regarding the development of Adelaide’s Calvary City Hospital. The practice has also been busy advising on renewables construction matters, acting for Goldwind Australia, White Rock Wind Farm and White Rock Solar on wind and solar farm projects. Head of construction and engineering Grant Ahearn is recommended along with James Morgan-Payler and Peter Lamont. Joshua Paffey left to join Corrs Chambers Westgarth, while Matthew Croagh moved to Pinsent Masons LLP. ACCIONA Infrastructure, Lendlease, Origin Energy, and McConnell Dowell are also clients. The department has been appointed to the panel of both John Holland Group and Downer Group. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

Clients appreciate Colin Biggers & Paisley’s ‘excellent industry knowledge, attention to detail and soundness of advice on both legal and tactical matters’. The team is acting for government authority Transport for NSW in federal court proceedings commenced by VAC Group concerning the Sydney Light Rail Project, and acted for Downer and CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles with respect to the Victorian government’s high-capacity Metro Trains project. Brad Kermond is recommended along with Nick Crennan, Stephen Carcano and ‘good tactician’ Geoff Standen, who ‘pays great attention to detail’ and is ‘always on top of the issues’. Greg Begaud, who joined from Jones Day, has a ‘distinct advantage in being an engineer with experience in the industry’, which means that ‘when dealing with technical experts an interpreter is not required’. Paul Muscat left to join Gadens Lawyers.

Gadens Lawyers’ team has seen some change with the firm’s Sydney and Perth offices joining Dentons in December 2016; however, the ‘highly effective’ Paul Muscat came with a team from Colin Biggers & Paisley. Clients say this has ‘strengthened the department’s offering’, and that ‘client expectations are met through flexibility, responsiveness and quality of advice’. Urban development matters are a key strength; the team is acting for CBD Developments in relation to the A$200m Arden Gardens development in Melbourne. AMP instructed the group on the A$600m redevelopment of Karrinyup Shopping Centre in Perth. John Kehoe in Melbourne and Jim Demack in Brisbane jointly head the team.

HWL Ebsworth grew through external hires, with Simon Walsh and Lucas Keogh joining from Ashurst and in-house at WesTrac, respectively, as well as the promotions to partner of Colin Harris and Mark Riddington. The team acted for Cbus Property as the developer of the residential tower at 443 Queen Street, Brisbane. The New South Wales (NSW) government’s Department of Industry instructed the team on extending the existing wharf at the Port of Eden to enable cruise ships of over 300 meters in length to dock. Metro Property Development received advice on its four-stage Central Village project as part of the urban renewal of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Head of team Ross Williams is recommended along with Paul Deschamps, Michael Hollingdale and Michael Tuckfield. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

Jackson McDonald provides a ‘very good level of service’, and the team is ‘better value for money and more pragmatic and solutions-focused than others’. In a contentious matter, the team acts for Karara Mining in a dispute in the Supreme Court of Western Australia brought by a contractor claiming additional costs resulting from alleged changes to the scope of work on the Karara mine in Western Australia. Built Environs, Doric Contractors and Schneider Electric Buildings Australia are also clients. Basil Georgiou heads the practice, which includes Thomas Jacobs, commended for his ‘good industry knowledge’ and ‘timely advice’.

Jones Day’s team leaders John Cooper, Simon Bellas and Bill Napier are spread across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney respectively, and regularly attract high-value matters; the practice has a good reputation for handling contentious issues. On the non-contentious side, it has been advising Lendlease, which is working with Crown Resorts and the NSW government’s Barangaroo Delivery Authority as sponsors, on the A$1.5bn hotel resort complex at Barangaroo South; the same client’s Singapore branch has been advised in its capacity as construction contractor on the Paya Lebar Central project in Singapore, a A$3bn mixed-use urban development site. In other work, the practice represented Monadelphous in Supreme Court of Western Australia proceedings concerning the construction of a 270km gas pipeline in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Fluor is a longstanding key client. Greg Begaud left to join Colin Biggers & Paisley.

Andrew Pitney’s team at Maddocks is ‘responsive, excellent value for money and has in-depth industry knowledge’. The practice is advising the Lendlease-Bouygues joint venture on its bid for the A$5.5bn Western Distributor toll road, which involves the construction of tunnels and bridges connecting west Melbourne to the CBD, and also acts for the Lendlease-Bouygues-John Holland joint venture on downstream contracting arrangements relating to its bid for the A$11bn Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel project. Andrew Chapman has a ‘wealth of practical experience’ and renders ‘sound, practical and no-frills advice’. Simone Holding, Paul Woods and Alicia Sheridan are also recommended.

McCullough Robertson adopts a ‘practical approach’, ‘achieves very good outcomes’ and ‘concentrates on effective communication’. The team, which is led by Matt Bradbury, ‘has the depth of knowledge and local connections to be able to deliver the results needed’. It assisted new client NewCold with the negotiation of the design contracts and contract preparation for a new cold store, the first of its kind in Australia, as well as with contractual negotiations and in disputes with contractors. Dalian Wanda instructed the team in drafting and negotiation of all project documentation for Wanda’s landmark A$1bn Jewel development on the Gold Coast, consisting of three residential towers, including a five-star hotel. Hutchinson Builders and Frasers Property Group are also clients, as well as more than 20 local councils in Queensland and New South Wales. ‘Outstanding communicator and practical strategist’ Russell Thirgood is valued for his ‘effective organisation of complex construction litigation’.

Mills Oakley Lawyers’ team displays ‘strong depth of team and experience’ and is valued for its ‘commercial and focused appreciation of the client’s risk profile’ and the ‘exceptional’ response times. It continues to act for the development joint venture of Billbergia and AMP Capital on construction issues for Brisbane’s A$500m Skytower, which comprises 1,136 apartments, and acted for Consolidated Properties Group in relation to Yeerongpilly Green, an urban development and Brisbane’s new mixed-use, lifestyle precinct. In other work, Coca-Cola Amatil instructed the practice on the A$200m Richlands Distribution Centre redevelopment, Coca-Cola Amatil’s largest distribution centre in Australia. The ‘very good, technically focused’ Scott Higgins delivers ‘first-class quality of legal advice and service’, while Greg Richards is ‘detailed, easy to work with’ and has ‘no ego’. Scott Laycock has inspired clients to ‘follow him and his team for the last 13 years’. Rechelle Brost is also singled out.

Pinsent Masons LLP has increased its footprint since entering the Australian market in 2015 and is now ‘a market leader in terms of service’, particularly regarding ‘business acumen and industry knowledge’. The team advised Probuild Constructions on construction contract issues regarding the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion project. John Holland received advice regarding the proposed alliance with MTM and KBR to construct the A$600m Mernda Rail Extension project, including eight kilometres of new track and several new stations. Andrew Denton’s ‘willingness to understand clients’ business and culture is second to none in this profession, and he brings ‘a high level of business intelligence and practical advice that others struggle to match’. Greg Campbell and Anthony Arrow are also recommended.

Piper Alderman’s team consists of ‘savvy lawyers who work hard to achieve commercial outcomes’. In a contentious matter, the team acted for Melbourne Steel Erectors in an adjudication application under the Security of Payment Act against Samaras Structural Engineers in relation to Chadstone shopping centre, the largest shopping centre in Australia. Other work highlights saw the team advise Metacorp on the proposed development of the Rockley Gardens apartments in Melbourne. The ‘extremely bright’ Geoffrey Emmett is ‘a great lateral thinker’ and ‘a highly intelligent lawyer with a knack for problem solving and navigating a path through the litigation process’. Megan Calder is valued for her ‘prompt turnaround’, is ‘easy to deal with’ and ‘very experienced in litigating a variety of different claims in a variety of forums’. Robert Riddell, who joined from Dentons, and Ted Williams are also recommended.

Squire Patton Boggs acts for residential construction companies, hotel developers and subcontractors. It also has a focus on energy sector construction matters, where it regularly acts for engineering companies and – particularly out of its Darwin office – oil and gas and mining companies. Work highlights include the team’s advice to the Australian subsidiary of Chinese developer YMCI regarding the A$2bn mixed-use residential development of 3,500 apartments near Sydney Olympic Park. WTCP received advice on the development of Perth’s A$1.85bn integrated World Trade Centre complex, which will include a 70-storey tower and retail complex, the first unsolicited bid in Western Australia under the state government’s new unsolicited bids policy. A number of partners come in for praise, among them Greg Steinepreis, Cris Cureton, Fabio Fior and Avendra Singh.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s team, which is commended for its ‘depth and breadth of industry knowledge’, has ‘the ability to succinctly understand complex matters and provide effective and efficient advice’. One key focus of the team is the large-scale residential apartment market; it acted for Mt Atkinson Holdings regarding the development of a 315-hectare parcel of land in Melbourne, producing 5,000 homes and yielding A$2bn of land sales. Also in this context, Singapore-based developer Fragrance Group instructed the firm on Melbourne’s landmark Premier Tower, a A$315m residential apartment and hotel project, reaching 259 metres in height. Kevin Frawley is ‘able to strategically analyse the situation and clearly articulate the matter’, while ‘always considering the client’s commercial interests and objectives’.

Specialist construction outfit Blackstone Waterhouse Lawyers, which is led by Veno Panicker, has expertise with civil engineering, solar and residential projects, and frequently acts for EPC head contractors in back-end matters. D&C head contractors, civil contractors, solar power companies and national residential developers count among the team’s clients. It acted for Apex Group as builder regarding a number of adjudications in New South Wales on several projects valued up to A$50m. The team also represented a major construction company in proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales concerning various claims for breach of statutory warranty with matter values of up to A$10m. Danny Arraj is the other name to note.

Clyde & Co LLPtruly understands and responds to clients’ needs’; its construction team is valued for its ‘commercial acumen’ and for providing ‘value for money’. The practice has a focus on advising contractors operating in the Australian market and has recently been reappointed to CIMIC’s CPB Contractors’ panels. It provided strategic project structuring and delivery advice to Mirvac regarding the construction of its flagship multibillion-dollar Harold Park development in Sydney, and regularly receives instructions from Saipem, Laing O’Rourke and Multiplex Constructions. Glen Warwick, Beth Cubitt and practice head David McElveney are singled out.

HFW’s team is ‘extremely responsive to difficult situations’, handling ‘time differences, different jurisdictions and cultural issues with skill and efficiency’. A US-based, global professional services and investment management company specialising in real estate received assistance with commercial advice and risk analysis regarding a number of contracts. On the contentious side, the team represented Arcadis in a construction dispute regarding a claim arising out of the involvement in a road project near Melbourne. The ‘brilliant and enthusiastic’ Nick Watts is ‘very knowledgeable and always ready to help’; Matthew Blycha and special counsel David Ulbrick ‘know their industry and always provide sensible commercial advice’; and Nick Longleydoes not dither around or unnecessarily complicate advice’. Amanda Davidson left to set up her own practice.

K&L Gates’ team displays a ‘high level of industry knowledge’ coupled with a ‘dynamic, responsive’ approach and has ‘great depth and experience, providing excellent service in complex cases’. It represented Glavcom in a A$10m dispute with a head contractor for the supply and installation of joinery on Sydney’s Pacific Bondi designer beach apartment project. Practice head Sandra Steele ‘combines great commercial insight with excellent legal skills’ and is ‘available for even ad hoc legal advice’. Downer EDI Services, Honeywell and Icon Constructions are among the team’s key clients.

Construction, engineering and property boutique Kreisson renders ‘clear and appropriate’ advice, and ‘provides a more personal service than others’. Clients include construction companies, contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and engineers, residential owners and developers. ‘Exceptional’ group head David Glinatsis, who has ‘over 30 years of industry knowledge’, is ‘mentally agile, careful and learned in his care, control, supervision and management of complex litigation worldwide’. Special counsel Michael Pelosi ‘performs exceptionally well’ and has ‘a huge amount of industry knowledge’.

Lander & Rogers handles front-end matters but also has dispute resolution expertise. It advised Qube Holdings on the development of an intermodal freight precinct at Moorebank, New South Wales, which will be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Insurer XL Catlin receives advice on a policy response in relation to two major defect claims totalling A$2m regarding the innovative façade of a Sydney office building. Lisa Gaddie has ‘good analytical skills and provide prompt and reliable advice’, and ‘demonstrate an ability to explain complicated legal issues in layperson’s terms’. David Fabien left to join Ganellen as Group General Counsel and Ian Gordon joined HFW.

Thomson Geer’s front-end and back-end practice acts for both contractors and principals. Flagship Property Holdings received advice on the second stage of the extension of Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, particularly regarding an A$80m hotel development as part of the exhibition centre. On the contentious side, it represented Grocon in a A$20m dispute between co-developers and builder in relation to the construction of 150 Collins Street, Melbourne. Andrew Kelly, John Frawley and Josh Marchant are recommended.

TressCox Lawyers counts New South Wales Land and Housing, Tu Projects and PJ Burns Builder among its key clients; the team is on the panel of the Master Builders Associations of both Queensland and Victoria. Work highlights included representing Shore Plumbing, which had carried out major works on a Gold Coast residential development project, in a security of payment matter. It also frequently acts for owners corporations. Andrew Whitelaw and Tony Mylne are singled out.

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