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Australia > Dispute resolution > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Elyse Hilton - Arnold Bloch Leibler
    • Edmond Park - Clayton Utz

Allens' team is ‘thorough, considered and able to quickly digest complex information and set a strategy that aligns with the client’s vision and values’. Practice head Ross Drinnan, jointly with Peter Haig, continues to advise KPMG on several proceedings concerning high-profile corporate collapses, including a class action and liquidators’ examinations. The widely respected Guy Foster continues to act for QBE Insurance Group in a shareholder class action regarding its disclosure obligations. 'Stand-out' Belinda Thompson, who is ‘smart and experienced’, is representing Ford in a major consumer class action. Peter O’Donahoo is acting for CITIC in a range of proceedings in relation to the $10bn Sino Iron project in Western Australia. Other names to note include Alexandra Mason, newly promoted partner Kate Austin and Tony Kuhn. Senior associate Kirsty Prinsloo is ‘extremely capable and hard working’. Matthew McCarthy has left to pursue a career in the US with a legal non-profit.

Ashurst's ‘invariably first-rate’ team acts for a wide range of high-profile clients; John Pavlakis is representing BMW Australia in Supreme Court of New South Wales class action proceedings in relation to vehicles fitted with faulty airbags. Wen-Ts’ai Lim represents Hyundai Mobis in litigation with the insurers of Mobis Parts Australia following a warehouse collapse in 2015 and defended the Commonwealth of Australia in a misfeasance in public office action. Georgia Quick and Andrew Carter are key practitioners. The team, led by Sydney-based Mark Levy, has been bolstered by Melanie McKean, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright. Catherine Pedler has been promoted to partner.

Clayton Utz handles international arbitration as well as litigation matters with particular key sectors being financial services, energy, natural resources and government. Jointly led by Ross McInnes and Nicholas Mavrakis, the team advises a major bank on its Open Advice Review programme, a consumer remediation effort regarding financial advice given between 2003-2012, as well as on an accountability practices investigation by the Australian prudential regulator. The team has also been engaged by Commonwealth Bank of Australia in relation to issues generated by the Financial Services Royal Commission. Sid Wang, Nick Cooper and Fred Prickett are other names to note, as well as rising stars Edmond Park and Alexandra Rose, both special counsel.

Gilbert + Tobin has been busy handling several matters stemming from the Banking Royal Commission for key client Westpac. It is also representing insolvent Vocation in two separate class actions across two jurisdictions claiming over A$100m in damages. Notable practitioners include Andrew Floro, Kate Harrison and Crispian Lynch. Janet Whiting represented Cargill Australia, Cargill Inc. and Cargill Malt Asia Pacific in Supreme Court of Victoria proceedings concerning allegations of false and misleading statements by Glencore and Viterra during the sale of a business. Practice head Richard Harris joined from Allens and the team has been further bolstered by Vicki Bell from Arnold Bloch Leibler. Mark Gerus has been called to the Bar, and Steven Glass retired from the partnership.

Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘without doubt a leading litigation firm in Australia’. The team, led by ‘solutions-focused and sharp’ Luke Hastings, has attracted two large-scale financial services matters; Damian Grave and Andrew Eastwood represent the National Australia Bank (NAB) before the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, and Cameron Hanson, Juliana Warner and Bryony Adams defend Commonwealth Bank of Australia in civil penalty proceedings commenced against it by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) in the Federal Court of Australia. Other names to note are Ken Adams, senior associate Christine Wong as well as Clare Smethurst and Merryn Quayle, who have both been promoted to partner.

Commercial litigation, class actions and insolvency-related matters are key strengths of Johnson Winter & Slattery's team, which is noted as ‘direct and to the point’. Group head Paul Buitendag continues to represent PKF Melbourne as liquidators of Australian Property Custodian Holdings, and PPB Advisory as liquidators of Gunns Group, in separate high-value insolvency proceedings. Paul Reidy represented ASIC in proceedings against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), NAB and Westpac for alleged market manipulation of the bank bill swap rate for financial gain. Robert Johnston acts for the institutional investors in two class actions for losses in excess of A$200m arising from the collapse of national retailer Dick Smith. Antoinette Miglorino and Mark Easton joined from K&L Gates.

Regulatory investigations, class actions, complex litigation and international arbitration are areas of strength for King & Wood Mallesons' team led by construction disputes expert Peter Pether. Chris Fox is representing 15 high-profile defendants in relation to the Banking Royal Commission, and Alexander Morris and Moira Saville have successfully defended corporate clients in complex claims, including Woolworths, Brickworks and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Other names to note include Roger Forbes, Justin McDonnell and arbitrator Alex Baykitch.

Minter Ellison's team, led by Ross Freeman, covers a wide range of areas, including representing high-profile clients in regulatory investigations and handling class actions. Michelle Power is acting for EnergyAustralia defending A$1bn proceedings brought by Lochard Energy arising out the client's sale of a strategically important gas storage facility. Other names to note include Kevin Stewart, Tom Fletcher and Michael Hales. The team has been bolstered by David Taylor, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills, and Rahoul Chowdry  from PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal. Lynne Lewis left to join Bird & Bird; Leith Ayres retired from the partnership.

Allen & Overy LLP's ‘diligent’ team provides ‘timely advice’ and is noted for its ‘strong commercial acumen’. Mark van Brakel, who is ‘easy to work with’, represents Global Advanced Metals in a dispute with Talison Lithium, and Michael Shepherd continues to represent Lanco Infratech in a claim against the administrators of Griffin Coal alleging failures to disclose information about Griffin’s assets. The ‘very experienced’ practice head John Samaha ‘acts quickly and manages his smoothly-run team well’; he successfully defended Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and CIMB Bank against one of Primary Healthcare’s shareholders accusing the banks of misconduct during a capital raising. Jason Gray  and Peter McDonald are also singled out; newly promoted partner David Jenaway is ‘intelligent, hardworking and personable’.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s ‘efficient’ team has particular strength in disputes in the insolvency arena. Practice head Leon Zwier acted for the administrators of the Arrium entities in all aspects of the A$4bn administration, including advice on the disputes which arose with other parties. Sydney-based Susanna Ford is representing Harris Farm in its dispute with Woolworths regarding a A$123m retail lease in Sydney. Justin Vaatstra and senior associate Elyse Hilton are also singled out. Alex King has left to set up his own practice. Robert Heathcote retired from the partnership.

Baker McKenzie handles disputes in a wide range of sectors and practice head Alex Wolff is a commercial and regulatory litigator with experience in insolvency, competition, insurance and property law. He represents the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in enforcement proceedings against Medibank and Andrew Salgo continues to represent Unilever Australia in proceedings against Beiersdorf regarding allegedly misleading conduct during its sale of a product. Jo Delaney focuses on international arbitration. Of counsel John Lobban joined from Ashurst.

Clifford Chance's ‘diligent and commercially astute’ practice is noted for its international capabilities and the team, led by Perth-based Ben Luscombe, has grown significantly at senior associate and associate level. Luscombe continues to represent an energy-sector client in an arbitration relating to a contractual dispute. ‘Superb, motivated and hardworking’ commercial litigator Angela Pearsall has a strong financial sector client base. Sam Luttrell has ‘excellent technical knowledge, particularly in investor-state arbitration’. Jenni Hill is singled out in Perth, as is Tim Grave in Sydney. Diana Chang retired from the partnership and is now a consultant to the firm.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth's ‘brilliant’ practice, led by James Whittaker, handles complex, high-value litigation and class actions, and regularly represents the government in contentious matters. It is acting for Trevor Flugge, the former head of the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), in civil penalty proceedings brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) against him, centred on allegations of payments by AWB to the Iraqi government in breach of UN sanctions. The team is also acting for Hancock Prospecting in its defence of claims brought by two children of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart and two third parties. Names to note include Mark Wilks, Stan Lewis, Chris Pagent and Bronwyn Lincoln. The team has been bolstered by Felicity Healy from now-defunct Henry Davis York and Joshua Paffey from Norton Rose Fulbright.

DLA Piper's practice head Rani John gives advice that is both ‘legally sound and commercially astute'. Gitanjali Bajaj, Richard Edwards and Liam Prescott are recommended for international arbitration, a particular strength of the practice. It welcomed Natalie Caton from King & Wood Mallesons, who specialises in cross-border corruption litigation, and handled several high-profile matters stemming from the Banking Royal Commission for two large financial institutions. It also represented the Securities and Exchange Board of India in relation to India’s largest Ponzi scheme to date, valued at $8bn and involving over 58.5 million Indian investors.

Key names to note in Jones Day's practice are John Emmerig, Simon Bellas and John Cooper. Class actions, high-value insolvencies and disputes for high-profile corporates are focus areas: Emmerig continues to defend Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb in a significant test case by the Australian government, which is claiming compensation for the impact resulting from originator drug companies allegedly preventing market entry of generic manufacturers. He also represents IBM in litigation against the Australian government regarding the failure of the Australian census website on census day. The team has been strengthened by Lucas Wilk from Ashurst, who specialises in insolvency litigation. Jennifer Chambers, Kenneth Hickman and Prudence Smith have all been promoted to partner.

Following the firm’s merger with now-defunct Henry Davis York, Norton Rose Fulbright added eight new partners to the ‘highly regarded’ team, which is jointly led by Rebecca Whittle in Sydney and Cameron Harvey in Melbourne. Whittle acts in a significant matter for a government entity, and Dylan McKimmie represents an energy-sector company in a breach of contract claim. Other additions to the team include Ann Donohue and  Penelope Ford, who both joined from Minter Ellison, Philippa Beck, who joined from Beck Consulting, and Andrew Battison from Allen & Overy. It has also seen some departures, notably Rob Buchanan, Adrienne Parker, Bill Ryan and Matthew Croagh, who all left to join Pinsent Masons LLP.

As well as handling commercial litigation and contractual disputes, Hall & Wilcox's ‘brilliant, knowledgeable and very thorough’ team has experience in class actions and insolvency litigation. ‘Sensible and pragmatic’ group head Graydon Dowd is representing the non-executive directors of Banksia Securities in shareholder proceedings filed on behalf of debenture holders. The ‘very smart and experienced’ Natasha Toholka is recommended for banking and finance litigation. Stephen Klotz and private client expert Tom McMahon are also singled out. Noel Batrouney retired from the partnership.

K&L Gates provides ‘pragmatic advice on dispute management, tactics and case preparation’. Department head Tim Webster continues to represent a manufacturer in proceedings brought by the New Zealand Ministry of Education regarding allegedly defective cladding used in school buildings. It also defended Sydney Fish Market in Supreme Court of NSW proceedings commenced by Felan’s, one of its indirect owners, in relation to obtaining the ability to influence decisions concerning the multimillion-dollar redevelopment or relocation of the iconic market. Mark Dobbie and John Kelly are also singled out. Mark Easton left to join Johnson Winter & Slattery.

Piper Alderman's team is ‘first rate in every respect’ and has expertise in debt recovery and commercial litigation. ‘Solid litigator’ and practice head Simon Morris as well as ‘exceptional negotiator’ Gordon Grieve are singled out; Grieve and Greg Whyte successfully represented DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund in its recovery of a failed investment in the acquisition of a US-listed company. The team has been strengthened by the arrival of special counsel Susanna Khouri, who joined from litigation funding company IMF Bentham; Leneen Forde has left to join the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The ‘excellent’ team at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is known for its strength in commercial litigation. Managing partners Michelle Fox and Michael Mills successfully defended Arup in proceedings brought by the receivers of BrisConnections regarding Arup’s traffic forecast for the plaintiff’s bid for the Airport Link toll-road project. Beau Deleuil continues to act for Aurizon Network in a case against various customers of Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network regarding the customers’ non-payment of fees; he also represents Australia's largest mortgage aggregation business, Connective Group, in a number of related disputes concerning a minority shareholder. Michael Lundberg joined from King & Wood Mallesons.

Squire Patton Boggs' ‘excellent, high-quality’ team, jointly headed by Amanda Banton and Greg Steinepreis, has been particularly busy with financial services and construction disputes. Brendan Reilly is representing a building products manufacturer in a contractual dispute in relation to a large-scale resources project. Cris Cureton, ‘among the best commercial litigation solicitors in the Northern Territory’, and Graeme Slattery are the names to note in Darwin and Perth respectively. The team has been bolstered by of counsel Susan Goodman, who joined from Ashurst.

Bird & Bird's team has seen some development; practice head Sophie Dawson joined from Ashurst and Lynne Lewis joined from Minter Ellison, where she led the firm's disputes offering. The practice has a focus on intellectual property matters and the technology sector and represents a telecoms company in matters concerning access arrangements to properties in connection with its network. It also acted for an IT services company in a dispute arising from the interruption to data centre services.

At Clyde & Co LLP, Jenni Priestley heads the practice alongside David McElveney and Michael Tooma; she continues to defend Apache, and represented it in a counterclaim, regarding the sale to Apache of Pankaj and Radhika Oswal’s shares in the Burrup ammonia plant.  Also singled out is Janette McLennan, who is defending Vocation’s former chief financial officer and company secretary in relation to his role in the company's capital raising. John Moran joined from Norton Rose Fulbright. Jenny Thornton has been called to the Bar. John Edmond has retired from the partnership.

Deutsch Miller's small but highly regarded team is ‘excellent and very easy to work with’ and Shane Anderton and name partner Mark Deutsch are both ‘senior providers of reliable and trusted advice ’. Deutsch, who is especially strong in equity, corporate and property disputes, continues to act for Hope Rinehart Welker, daughter of Gina Rinehart, in widely publicised Rinehart family trust matters and disputes involving the Hancock Prospecting Group of companies. Anderton, a contentious regulatory specialist, is representing BNP Paribas in a claim against ANZ for equitable damages arising from the insolvency of Arrium Group. Other notable clients include Linfield Developments, Addenbrooke and Glencore.

Gadens Lawyers regularly acts for Australian banks, government agencies, property companies and fund managers as well as for blue-chip corporates; Patrick Walsh is advising Aurora Funds Management on disputes relating to the winding-up of the Cayman Islands Torchlight Fund. Walsh leads the team alongside Susan Forrest and Karen Thomas. Dermott Lynch joined from his own firm, Lynch Connection, James Roland from Turks Legal, and Kathy Merrick and Michael Bampton joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York. Glenn McGowan is another name to note.

HFW's team focuses on contentious work in the firm’s core areas of practice shipping and aviation, construction, insurance, energy and commodities. Practice head Nick Longley is an ‘outstanding lawyer’ whose ‘knowledge and appropriateness of advice meet expectations’; he specialises in construction litigation and acted for design firm Arcadis Australia in a claim arising out of its involvement in a Victorian road project. Insurance expert Richard Jowett, who has experience in class actions, is also singled out; Gavin Vallely, Matthew Blycha and Andrew Dunn are other names to note. Simon Shaddick and Brendan McCashin have been promoted to partner.

Karene Primrose heads up the ‘very responsive’ team at Perth-based Jackson McDonald, which covers contentious work in a wide range of sectors, notably energy, resources, infrastructure, property, construction, insurance and tax. Primrose is advising the trustees of the Legal Contribution Trust on various claims and recovery options, and on a further A$1.4m claim made against the fund. Anthony Bereyne is representing Karara Mining in Supreme Court proceedings brought by a contractor. Other names to note include Neil Gentilli and Basil Georgiou. Renae Harding has been promoted to partner. Stephen Kemp retired from the partnership.

Kemp Strang has particular expertise in banking litigation and security enforcement, shareholder and partner disputes, as well as in the property, construction, and planning and environment sectors. It is acting for Australian Financial Planning Group in enforcing its rights in relation to misuse of confidential information and breaches of restraints by a former employee. The seven-partner practice, led by Peter Harrison, Glen Cussen and Sarina Roppolo, has been strengthened by Nora Minassian from Dentons. Phil Kaunitz, Ian Marsden and  Jacob Rodgers are other names to note.

Maddocks' ‘very good’ practice has well-rounded commercial litigation capabilities and is particularly known for representing government departments at federal, state and local level. The ‘focused and responsive’ Gina Wilson, who heads the team jointly with Norman Lucas, defended a former executive manager of Joe White Maltings in third-party proceedings commenced against him in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Lucas continues to defend Fitch Ratings in proceedings regarding the ratings it assigned to certain synthetic collateralised debt obligations. David Laidlaw and Shaun Temby are other names to note.

McCullough Robertson's ‘efficient, effective and exceptionally responsive’ practice is commended for its ‘practical approach’. Agribusiness, construction and natural resources disputes are its core strengths; Peter Stokes, who ‘seamlessly instructs large teams and gets the best out of his lawyers’, continues to act for Adani in arbitration proceedings against John Holland regarding delays and changes to the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland. Guy Humble heads the group; ‘outstanding communicator’ Russell Thirgood, restructuring and insolvency specialist Scott Butler and regulatory expert Tim Case are other names to note. Commercial litigation and regulatory head Jason Munstermann joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York.

Mills Oakley Lawyers fields a team of ‘highly competent lawyers with a sound technical skill base’. It possesses litigation expertise across a number of sectors including insurance, construction, infrastructure and financial services, as well as expertise in toxic torts. The team has been bolstered by the addition of Stuart Walter from M+K Lawyers and Graham Maher from Bird & Bird. It continues to act for the liquidators of Timbercorp Finance in the recovery of Timbercorp Finance’s A$500m loan book, a matter led by Melbourne-based Darren James. The practice is jointly headed by Stephen Dickens and Andrew Brown.

Thomson Geer's ‘incredibly knowledgeable and accessible’ department, which is headed by Harold Werksman, has a focus on construction contracts and automotive manufacturing disputes and experience defending superannuation funds against pension claims. Melbourne-based Lousie Gehrig represented Patrick Stevedores in A$18m Victorian Supreme Court lease proceedings against the Port of Melbourne and successfully defended APS Satellite against a NSW Supreme Court claim relating to broadband services pricing arrangements. Julie Callea-Smyth is noted for her expertise in contractual as well as fraud and misrepresentation disputes.

Colin Biggers & Paisley has a focus on the construction, property and insurance sectors. Antony Riordan and ‘excellent legal adviser’ Leanne Walker jointly head the practice. It represented Downer EDI Engineering in proceedings brought by insolvent Deluxe Developments in relation to moneys allegedly owed from a project. St Hilliers Group, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers and Pfizer Australia also count among the team's clients. Other names to note include Matthew Deighton, Timothy Seton and David Miller.

Cooper Grace Ward is particularly strong in Queensland and the two-partner team has been further bolstered at junior level. The names to note are Rocco Russo and Graham Roberts; Russo continues to represent the director and entities of the JM Kelly Group of companies in proceedings in which the Queensland Building and Construction Commission is seeking to review the licensing of several group members. McDonald’s Australia, FTI Consulting and Credit Union Australia also count among the team's key clients.

Dentons possesses broad commercial litigation capabilities; practice head Louise Massey is acting for a major financial institution as co-defendant in a mortgage fraud case and Ben Allen represented FAL Group in proceedings in the New South Wales Supreme Court regarding losses caused by unauthorised transactions and misapplication of funds by the defendant. Lisa Wright is also singled out.

Kennedys is particularly well known for its insurance and media sector litigation capabilities, and the ten-partner team, led by Patrick George, has successfully represented high-profile clients such as former Australian prime ministers Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd. Rebekah Giles assisted a former director of Reed Constructions with defending the liquidator’s insolvent trading claim. Raylee Hartwell and Penny Taylor also come in for praise.

Real estate, financial services, insolvency and regulatory disputes are key strengths of Lander & Rogers. Tean Kerr is representing Investa Group in proceedings regarding fraud by a former employee. The team regularly acts for public bodies; property litigation expert Grant Levy continues to defend the City of Yarra against a A$15m claim brought by the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board arising from contamination of land formerly owned by the client. Greg McKenzie heads the group; Johnathan Quilty, Andrew Forbes, Louise Nixon and insolvency specialist Lily Nguyen are also singled out.

The ‘very good, well-led’ team at Sparke Helmore Lawyers has been bolstered by Scott McDonald from DLA Piper and handled a number of corporate disputes. It represented travel company Agoda in proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, defending a claim for damages resulting from an injury sustained at a hotel. Nick Christiansen represented Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in a dispute with its former operator. Tim Castle heads the team. Richard Anicich retired from the partnership in September 2017.

Reaymond McGuiness and Andrew Christopher jointly head Webb Henderson's team, which specialises in securities class actions and competition litigation. McGuiness has acted for Accor Australia & New Zealand Hospitality in a recent successful appeal to the Full Federal Court to protect Accor’s 'Cairns Harbour Lights' trade mark . Antonia Rose has a focus on financial services sector litigation.

White & Case LLP's team features the well-regarded Hamish Macpherson and Max Bonnell, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills and King & Wood Mallesons respectively in October 2017. It is representing a mining and resources company in a claim brought by an investor in the Democratic Republic of Congo seeking to enforce an International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes award against the DRC government.

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Legal Developments worldwide

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