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Australia > Employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Employment
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Russell Allen - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Steven Amendola - Ashurst
    • Karl Blake - Minter Ellison
    • Josh Bornstein - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
    • Richard Bunting - Ashurst
    • Jim Fox - Minter Ellison
    • Chris Gianatti - KHQ Lawyers
    • Michael Harmer - Harmers Workplace Lawyers
    • Darren Perry - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
    • Henry Skene - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
    • Graham Smith - Clayton Utz
    • Amanda Watt - Minter Ellison
    • Richard West - Minter Ellison

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Ashurst has seen some change, with Adrian Morris and Helen McKenzie withdrawing from the partnership and becoming senior consultants. Clients praise the team’s ‘strong junior lawyers’, adding that they ‘get answers which you feel comfortable relying on’. In recent highlights, the team advised 23 Commonwealth agencies on all aspects of enterprise bargaining, and, on the contentious side, acted for Alcoa in a major industrial dispute involving the replacement of Alcoa’s Australian-crewed ship with foreign-crewed vessels. The practice has an extensive resources sector client base, and recently advised South32 on the employment aspects of its demerger from BHP Billiton. Also rated are Rob Lilburne, who is ‘excellent’, and Jennie Mansfield, who ‘selects good juniors and allocates work in an effective manner’. Stephen Woodbury heads the practice globally.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ comprehensive team is ‘immediately accessible’, and has enjoyed a number of significant client wins. Anthony Wood, ‘a strategic and clear thinker with a wealth of experience’, continues to advise Toyota and Ford Australia on their intention to close the Australian manufacturing operations. Sonia Millen provides ‘balanced advice at a strategic level on complex issues’, and recently acted for Qube Ports in an industrial dispute. Client also praise Kirsty Faichen, who gives ‘user-friendly advice based on strong technical knowledge’, and Rohan Doyle, who has ‘an excellent ability to put clients at ease’. Household names such as BHP Billiton, Qantas, Chevron, Expedia and Grocon instruct the team. Graeme Smith withdrew from the partnership, becoming a consultant. Miles Bastick heads the Australia and Asia practice.

Minter Ellisondefinitely puts the client first’, and the team’s ‘knowledge of the law and industrial relations is second to none’. Amanda Watt (‘very good at explaining complex pieces of legislation’ and ‘very measured and calm when the pressure is on’) advised the Australian Public Service Commission on award modernisation matters. Elsewhere, Westpac instructed the team on enterprise agreement negotiations. The firm completed its national offering in March 2016 by opening a Perth office, with Kathy Reid and Craig Boyle both joining from Allion Legal, and in Melbourne the ‘excellent’ Karl Blake arrived from Maddocks. Jim Fox leads the practice.

The ‘fabulous’ team at Clayton Utz delivers ‘practical, high-quality advice’ and has recently seen an increase in contentious as well as cross-border transactional work, the latter frequently in conjunction with international firms. By way of example, it recently advised Macquarie Group on the employment aspects of its acquisition of ANZ Bank’s A$8.23bn Esanda dealer finance portfolio. Other matters included advising funds manager QIC on implementing and enforcing a high-performance culture, and representing Esso Australia in its enterprise bargaining. Saul Harben, who heads the team, is sought out for his ‘top-class advice’; Hedy Cray ‘is a standout lawyer’ and is rated for her ‘experience and determination’; and Jennifer Wyborn’s ‘high-quality advice allows clients to achieve an excellent outcome’.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has been busy acting for clients from the energy and resources sector and regularly receives instructions from government entities. Recent work includes advising the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate on Federal Court proceedings against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, and Glencore Coal on enterprise agreement negotiations and workforce restructuring matters. Head of team John Tuck is recommended ‘when you are seeking to develop a long-term, pragmatic approach to implementing reform’; Stephen Price is ‘a brilliant lawyer who is extremely knowledgeable and commercial’; Nicholas Ellery adopts a ‘considered and measured’ approach and is ‘able to focus on practical outcomes’.

Henry Davis York focuses on the financial services, retail and government sectors. Recent highlights include representing NSW Trains in contentious and unfair dismissal matters, and representing industry group the Retail Council before the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. ‘Gifted advocateStephen Jaunceyleaves no stone unturned’, and Tony Woodscuts through complex legal issues and provides practical solutions’. Practice head Vanessa Andersen left to join Maddocks.

Norton Rose Fulbright is ‘ahead of the game in ensuring that client needs are anticipated and met’, and the team provides ‘exceptional industry knowledge and well-tailored advice’. Government, construction, transport and energy are key sectors for the team, and recent work includes acting for Victoria Police in relation to discrimination claims, and for Qube Ports in an industrial dispute. QBE Insurance instructed the team in developing an Asia Pacific standardised employment contract. The ‘results-drivenSarah Ralph is ‘very good in discrimination cases’; Sally Woodward is ‘excellent in leading her team, with a good understanding of client business objectives’; and the ‘technically strongJason Noakes is ‘extremely adept at assisting with complex industrial matters’. Martin Osborne’s team saw the departure of Leanne Nickels to DLA Piper, while Samantha Maddern joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP has assembled ‘the most progressive and strategic collection of employment lawyers in Australia’, who ‘take on the big cases and get the results’. The young practice serves an impressive list of clients, including Coles, Toll Group and Fairfax Media. Recent highlights include advising port operator DP World on a protracted collective bargaining dispute, and representing ANZ Bank in two employment litigation cases valued at A$30m each. Michael Tamvakologos has ‘achieved creative outcomes that not only improve the client’s business, they change the industry’; and Chris Gardner provides ‘industry-leading advice and thought leadership’, and ‘goes above and beyond with every case’. Darren Perry and Henry Skene are also recommended.

Baker McKenzie provides ‘focused, thoughtful, and commercially sensitive advice’ and has in a recent highlight represented McDonald’s Australia before the Fair Work Commission in relation to national enterprise agreement variations. Other high-profile clients include Caterpillar, Dell, Google and Unilever. Paul Brown and Michael Michalandos are recommended, the latter for his ‘truly outstanding commitment and advice’.

DLA Piper’s team has gone through transformational changes, with new team head Nicholas Turner joining from Sidley Austin LLP’s London office, and Kathy Dalton and Leanne Nickels (who ‘pitches her advice at the right level’) joining from K&L Gates and Norton Rose Fulbright respectively. The team works with clients in a wide range of industries, including the likes of Pfizer, Powercor Australia, Fair Work Building and Construction, and Allergan. Melbourne Water instructs the team in industrial relations matters. Clients assess the team as ‘top rate for service, advice and value’.

FCB Workplace Law’s growing practice has seen some internal promotions as well as the opening of its Brisbane office in September 2015. Recent work highlights include acting for the Australian Retailers Association, on behalf of the Australian retail industry, regarding a reduction in the Sunday penalty rate for retail workers. Novartis, ING Bank and Boral Construction are also clients. Campbell Fisher is singled out for his ‘expertise, commercial acumen and strategic capability’; Sue Barnes is ‘a first-class lawyer’ with an ‘engaging manner’; and the ‘meticulous’ Matthew Robinson displays ‘strong attention to detail’.

HWL Ebsworth has had a successful year with numerous panel appointments and continues to act for Westpac and Cathay Pacific, as well as Chubb and AIG, which reflects the firm’s strong insurance sector capabilities. Mark Howard’s team represented ASP Ship Management in a maritime sector industrial action and has carried out work for a number of government departments and agencies. Erica Hartley is ‘extremely personable and understanding of the nature of her clients’ businesses’, and Clare Raimondo’s advice is ‘sharp and targeted’.

K&L Gates’ team, headed by Alice DeBoos, ‘offers proactive solutions’. It has recently handled a number of high-profile matters, including advising Svitzer Australia on merging enterprise agreements with three separate maritime unions into a joint agreement, and acting for the Department of Defence in significant unfair dismissal proceedings. Andrew Kennedy is a ‘safe pair of hands’, whose ‘no-nonsense approach delivers results’, and Gerard Phillips is also a name to note. Kathy Dalton joined DLA Piper.

King & Wood Mallesons’ team has a track record of advising on senior executive employee matters, most recently on behalf of Barclays, and on large-scale transactions. It advised Queensland Treasury Corporation on the merger of two electricity distribution businesses, which affected over 7,000 employees. ‘Trusted adviser’ Murray Kellock ‘operates with a high level of integrity’, and Andrew Gray is a ‘fearless litigator and savvy negotiator’. Philip Willox is also recommended.

Maddocks continues to act for a number of high-profile Australian corporates as well as public bodies, and recently advised Victoria Police, VicRoads and the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority on enterprise bargaining. A local health district instructed the team in disability discrimination proceedings. Bruce Heddle and Catherine Dunlop jointly head the team, which saw the departure of Karl Blake to Minter Ellison and the arrival of Vanessa Andersen from Henry Davis York and of special counsel Karli Evans from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Thomson Geer bolstered its team with the addition of David Davies from Sparke Helmore Lawyers, who now heads the group jointly with Chris Hartigan. Industrial disputes, employment litigation and discrimination claims are areas of focus and the team regularly acts for Glencore, iiNet, John Holland and NSW Health. Louise Russell and Lucienne Mummé joined Johnson Winter & Slattery.

Allensprovides an excellent quality of service within often tight deadlines’, and team head Simon Dewberry brings ‘practical, strategic and industry perspective to complex workplace relations matters’; he advised Australia Post on its contractor management systems review. Peter Arthur represented Royal Bank of Scotland in severance and bonus payments litigation.

Arnold Bloch Leibler delivers ‘excellent, practical advice’ in a ‘quick and cost-effective’ manner. James Simpson’s team handled a number of insurance industry cases and acted for a resources industry company in a significant organisational restructuring.

Gadens Lawyers’ Mark Sant provides ‘sound, commercially referenced advice in a pragmatic way’. Matters involving senior executives, business restructurings and work pertaining to unionised environments, such as ports and construction, are key areas of expertise. The team advised Marriott on its Australian employment relations strategy, and represented Qube Ports in two disputes with the Maritime Union of Australia. Jonathon Hadley joined from DibbsBarker. *Since publication, Gadens' Sydney and Perth offices have merged with Dentons.

Gilbert + Tobin’s team features the ‘extremely responsive and practicalDianne Banks, who ‘exceeds expectations’. A recent highlight for the firm was advising a financial industry client on human resources investigations in several jurisdictions. Primary Health Care is also a client.

Hall & Wilcox’s six partners cover a wide range of industries and are ‘able to answer the unasked questions that sit within matters’. Recent highlights include representing Coal & Allied Mining Services in unfair dismissal proceedings, and advising a national client on the implications of tracking devices in company-provided cars under workplace surveillance legislation. The team includes the ‘very shrewd and knowledgeable’Aaron Dearden, Mark Dunphy (‘if it’s complex and high risk, clients call him’), and Kerryn Tredwell, whose advice is ‘easy to implement’. Ken Brotherson and Karl Rozenbergs are also names to note.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers’ team is of ‘a very high calibre’, and practice head Michael Harmer has a ‘great ability to quickly and thoroughly read situations to provide excellent advice’. The specialist workplace firm has recently acted for Brickworks and the Concrete Masonry Association of Australia regarding an award review. The Australian Ski Area Association is also a client.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s team is led jointly by Ruveni Kelleher (‘tenacious and effective’) and Jan Dransfield (‘prepared to put forward an unambiguous recommendation’). The firm defended Macquarie University in breach of contract proceedings, and advised Microsoft on its acquisition of an Australian software company. Qantas, BNP Paribas, Samsung and Seven West Media are other key clients. Lucienne Mummé joined from Thomson Geer.

KHQ Lawyers features ‘highly regarded industrial relations strategistChris Gianatti, who is ‘willing to go the extra yard’, and ‘quickly appreciates the client’s risk appetite and advises accordingly’. Recent highlights include representing John Holland regarding CFMEU industrial action relating to the Perth Children’s Hospital, and advising ANZ Bank on enterprise bargaining matters.

Lander & Rogers regularly acts for Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi and Australia Post, and was recently appointed to the Victorian government panel. Northern Sydney Local Health District instructed the firm in a discrimination matter. The team includes Mark Diserio, who ‘adds value and manages risks’ and ‘reduces stress in complex situations’. Former practice head Andrew Farr took a position at PwC Australia.

McCullough Robertson’s practice, led by Michael Moy, attracted a sizeable number of new clients, and regularly acts for the State of Queensland, Thiess and Gold Coast City Council. Queensland Health instructed the team on all aspects of the award modernisation process. Jeremy Kennedy moved to Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors.

Piper Alderman has a solid roster of longstanding clients, among them are Bridgestone, the Department of Defence, St John Ambulance and Thiess. The team represented the director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate in two separate Federal Court matters against the CFMEU. Recommended are Tim Lange, Tim Capelin (who ‘understands the urgent nature of situations’ and ‘gives the right advice, not the advice that clients would like to hear’), and ‘brilliant’ aviation industry expert Stephen Hughes (who ‘thinks outside the box’).

Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors’ team was bolstered by the arrival of Jeremy Kennedy from McCullough Robertson. Joe Murphy and Nigel Ward are the names to note. DHL and Fisher & Paykel are key clients.

DibbsBarker’s team includes the notable Maree Skinner. The client roster spans a number of industries and includes BMW Sydney, Deloitte, Domino’s and Emerson.

At Holding Redlich, managing partner Stephen Trew is recommended for workplace related advice. The team saw the departure of Paul Hardman to K&L Gates.

Jones Day’s practice head Adam Salter is ‘precise and to the point’ and leads a team that ‘adds value’. McDonald’s, LinkedIn and Applied Medical Australia are notable clients.

Squire Patton Boggs’ team of ‘trusted advisers’ features the ‘reliable and strategicBruno Di Girolami and newly promoted partner Anna Elliott, who ‘finds solutions’. The firm regularly acts for Technip, Murdoch University and Fresenius Kabi.

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