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Australia > Insurance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

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

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Philip Hopley - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Bianca Montgomery-Hribar - Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
    • Guy Narburgh - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Mandy Tsang - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Peter Yeldham - King & Wood Mallesons

Herbert Smith Freehills’ ‘excellent, top-tier team’ includes Brisbane-based Mark Darwin, who has significant experience in acting for policyholders; he heads the team jointly with directors and officers liability expert Peter Holloway in Melbourne, who is noted for his ‘exceptional depth of knowledge’. The group continues to represent a major Australian bank in respect of liabilities claims to its insurers. Sydney-based special counsel Guy Narburgh is another name to note; he handled a number of multimillion-dollar liability claims for corporate clients. Special counsel Philip Hopley is also singled out.

Kennedys ‘has great industry knowledge, provides succinct, commercial advice' and possesses ‘valuable depth of experience, particularly at partner level’. The team acts for clients in a range of matters, including professional negligence, liability and personal injury claims. Matt Andrews defended the insurers of Novus Capital in a number of claims alleging poor advice from one of its authorised representatives. The ‘technically brilliant’ Veronica Chapman is acting for AXIS, the professional indemnity insurer of a construction head contractor, in a matter relating to a stadium construction project. The ‘agile and adaptable’ Chris Finn is representing Allianz and its insured in a $2m recovery action against a logistics company for alleged mishandling during stock piling and loading operations. James Melvin is another name to note. John Petts and Cindy Tucker joined from now-defunct TressCox.

Travis Toemoe heads the practice at King & Wood Mallesons; global head of risk Peter Stockdale is another name to note. Brisbane-based Justin McDonnell has strong expertise in contentious matters and continues to represent Seqwater in a A$2bn class action suit arising from the 2011 Brisbane floods. In a high-profile matter, Toemoe is advising the captive insurer of one of Australia’s four largest banks in a £700m claim relating to losses incurred as a result of a review and redress scheme for customers who purchased interest rate hedging products before the global financial crisis. Senior associates Mandy Tsang and Peter Yeldham are also key contacts, alongside the highly recommended Philip Ward.

Minter Ellison's 'exemplary’ team, led by Melbourne-based Peter Coats, acts for high-profile clients such as Morgan Stanley and QBE. Kemsley Brennan assisted an insurance company with its acquisition of a competitor's risk insurance business. Sydney-based Chern Tan is acting for the insured of Westpac General Insurance in a A$60m claim following a bushfire. The team continues to advise several financial institutions, including AIA, National Australia Bank and Westpac, on the implementation of the Future of Financial Advice reforms and the Life Insurance Framework reforms. Nevin Agnew in Canberra is defending a fire claim for a large insurer. Pamela Madafiglio retired from the partnership.

Norton Rose Fulbright's practice head Tricia Hobson is noted for her ‘understanding of clients and the market’. Insurance and litigation expert Mark Attard and special counsel Sarah Metcalfe, along with Nicole Wearne, Matthew Ellis, Ganga Narayanan and Jacques Jacobs, are other names to note. The team has been bolstered by the addition of Rebecca Whittle and Michael Sullivan following the firm's merger with now-defunct Henry Davis York. Ray Giblett is also singled out.

The team at specialist insurance firm Wotton + Kearney, led by David Kearney, allocates ‘the right person to the right file’. Melbourne-based Cain Jackson is defending Kidder Williams and one other in three high-profile Supreme Court Proceedings arising from the collapse of the Prime Retirement and Aged Care Property Trust, seeking damages exceeding A$300m. Other names to note include Andrew Moore, Patrick Boardman and Adam Chylek. Krissy Vale and Aisha Lala are both ‘excellent operators’.

Clayton Utz's ‘superb’ team is led by Sydney-based David Gerber, who is 'always available' and singled out for his ’considered and very thoughtful’ approach. The group handled a number of high-profile matters including advising a financial services company on a reinsurance deal between the client and a global reinsurer, which covered 50% of the client's retail life insurance business and involved the transfer of insurance risk. It also defended the New Zealand subsidiary of Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) against a claim arising out of a dispute with New Zealand's Financial Markets Authority regarding alleged mis-selling of financial products. Fred Hawke, Mark Waller and Lucy Terracall are also names to note.

Clyde & Co LLP's ‘knowledgeable, well-connected’ team, led by Dean Carrigan, includes Gareth Horne, who is defending a financial institution in three separate multimillion-dollar proceedings against a subsidiary. Sydney-based Janette McLennan successfully represented a reinsurance group in a longstanding complex dispute with an insurance company. Lucinda Lyons has a focus on defending insurers in catastrophic injury claims, most recently in a paraplegia case, which successfully tested the 'professional sports' defence on the part of the insurer. Other names to note include David Lee and Marcus O’Brien. The practice has been bolstered by the arrival of John Moran from Norton Rose Fulbright. John Edmond retired from the partnership, and Jenny Thornton has been called to the Bar.

Colin Biggers & Paisley's team ‘excellently tailors’ advice to clients. It represented accounting and audit firm Mulqueen Griffin Rogers in proceedings brought by the former trustee of collapsed mortgage funds Banksia Securities and Statewide Securities. It also acted for a large insurer in relation to its exposure to proceedings filed against listed law firm Slater & Gordon following the acquisition of a business, which substantially reduced Slater & Gordon's market capitalisation. Jonathan Newby and Patrick Monahan are key names to note alongside department co-heads Andrew Tulloch and Gavin Creighton.

DLA Piper is noted for its ‘excellent business acumen and industry knowledge’. The team is acting for Western Power and its Lloyd’s underwriters in four class actions relating to wildfire damage in Western Australia, and is advising the former CEO of Westfund, an insured of Vero Insurance, in proceedings regarding allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. On the non-contentious side, the practice provides regulatory advice and handles policy reviews under the leadership of group head Samantha O’Brien in Brisbane. Perth-based Louise Coleman joined from Wotton + Kearney. The team has seen some departures; Toby Barrie, Jason Hart and Belinda Randall left to join Barry.Nilsson., and Natasha Stojanovich joined Lander & Rogers.

HFW ‘provides a good, responsive service’. Melbourne-based practice head Richard Jowett acted for a major mining company and its captive insurer in claims arising from an environmental disaster; he is also advising clients in relation to liability and negligence claims resulting from flooding. In Sydney, the ‘knowledgeable and diligent’ Andrew Dunn continues to represent IAG in a dispute relating to Bestobell’s Australian entities, and advised Rolls-Royce on a class action brought by passengers and crew of Qantas flight QF32, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore. Brendan McCashin has been promoted to partner. Stephen Thompson is another name to note.

Lander & Rogers' team is led by Ari Abrahams, Lisa Newcombe and Genevieve Collins. Sydney-based Mark Lindfield is advising the Insurance Council of Australia, the representative body of general insurers, on its negotiations with the New South Wales government regarding reforms to the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance market. Melbourne-based Julie Smith is acting fora large insurer in connection with claims arising out of the collapse of national retailer Dick Smith. Special counsel Natasha Stojanovich is another name to note. The practice acts for major insurers, government authorities, self-insured corporations and brokers and handles a variety of matters including M&A, restructuring, product and licensing work, as well as contentious work.

Allens is singled out for its ‘excellent industry knowledge and good experience across the team’. On the contentious side, Melbourne-based Louise Jenkins continues to act for a mining company in its pursuit of indemnity following a major landslide incident. The team continues to handle a professional indemnity class action relating to a A$1bn profit decrease of an Australian insurer's North America business in 2013. Practice head Andrew Maher is ‘highly responsive and attuned to client needs’. Managing associate Jonathan Light is also singled out.

The well-respected Frank Lawson heads the team at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, which has strong experience acting for policyholders, especially in the infrastructure and construction space. On the insurer side, it represents a number of insurers in relation to coverage issues in claims for indemnity. Special counsel and policyholder issues specialist Catherine Oldenburg works closely with Lawson on the team’s key matters. Melbourne-based Daniel Marquet is ‘excellent, with great industry knowledge, responsiveness and sound judgement’. Patrick O’Grady joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York.

HWL Ebsworth's insurance practice has grown through the merger with now-defunct firm TressCox. It is representing a detention service provider through overseas insurers in relation to 34 injury-related claims made by former detainees who have sued both the Commonwealth of Australia and detention service providers. The team also represents a major listed building product manufacturer in relation to its South Australian asbestos liabilities. Notable names include David Johns , Andrew Miers and Sarah McJanett. Ivan Medak heads the practice.

Jackson McDonald’s Stefan Sudweeks, who has ‘a vast amount of relevant insurance experience’, and Alex Lustig, who is recommended for ‘his tenacious pursuit of legal research and insurance product development', jointly head the insurance offering with particular expertise in insurance matters surrounding the Western Australian oil, gas and mining industries. It also covers director and officer liability claims, and represented the CFO of Forge Group in NSW Supreme Court proceedings. Lustig continues to act for a multinational iron ore and machinery manufacturer to defend a personal injury claim. In other highlights, JC van der Walt defended a mortgage broker in a Supreme Court Action against it. Other clients include Chaucer, Zurich and Chubb Insurance.

McCabe Curwood is the result of a merger between legacy firms Curwoods Lawyers with McCabes in July 2018. The insurance practice has expanded to add a stronger personal injury business line, in addition to the firm's local and London insurance market focuses. The 13-partner team represents a number of insurers such as IAG and Allianz as well as numerous government departments. The practice is headed by Scott Kennedy, Francesca Menniti and Matthew Seisun.

Moray & Agnew is noted for its ‘excellent and timely advice’ as well as its ‘great service and industry knowledge’. The team has been bolstered by the arrival of Kim Ebbeck from Rankin Ellison and Roger Hambly from Minter Ellison. Geoff Connellan acted for three of the 19 cross-defendants in a large NSW Supreme Court mortgage fraud case. Stephen Taylor-Jones represented a client in a toxic tort matter. Other notable practitioners in the team include Suzanne Wallace and Anthony Scott, who jointly head the practice, and financial institutions specialist Peter Tredinnick.

The steadily growing, ‘extremely diligent’ team at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is developing its Australian presence, having opened a Perth office in 2017. Michelle Fox and Michael Mills represent corporate clients in a range of commercial disputes. Mills successfully represented the former CEO of collapsed Hastie Group in NSW Supreme Court proceedings brought by the liquidators. Jointly with Fox, he also represented the former non-executive directors of mining and resources contractor WDS in respect of its insurance position and claims arising out of WDS' administration. The team has seen the arrival of Paul Evans, former state solicitor for Western Australia, and Michael Lundberg, who joined from King & Wood Mallesons. Senior associate Bianca Montgomery-Hribar is another name to note.

Sparke Helmore Lawyers strengthened its practice through the combination with niche insurance firm Jarman McKenna. Chris Wood leads the 31-partner team, which covers a range of insurance claims and advisory work. Belinda Michalk acts for a high-profile insurer and its insured in a multimillion-dollar personal injury claim; Patrick McGrath is defending a building contractor in two separate Supreme Court of Victoria proceedings issued by the Epworth Freemasons Hospital and the Epworth Foundation in relation to a construction works incident. Other key contacts include John Coorey, Chris Wood, Wes Rose and Catherine Power. Gillian Davidson heads the national liability team. The practice has seen the arrival of a team of four from Curwoods Lawyers and the firm opened a Darwin office in 2018.

Ashurst's insurance offering is led by Rehana Box, who has an ‘extraordinary grasp of the insurance legal and regulatory environment’. Box advised AIA on its acquisition of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance business, including advising on associated reinsurance arrangements. London-based senior associate Tove Webster works closely with the Australian practice and assisted with devising a new, end-to-end insurance programme for the Australian Defence Force’s maritime acquisition and sustainment projects. Jamie Ng is also singled out. Philip Hopley left to join Herbert Smith Freehills.

Barry.Nilsson.'s ‘excellent’ team has grown rapidly with the arrivals of Toby Barrie from DLA Piper,  David Kerwin from Colin Biggers & Paisley, Radhika Mendis from Lander & Rogers, and Carolyn Coventry from Sparke Helmore Lawyers. It is led by Rhett Kennedy, who successfully defended a claim against Vero Insurance and their insured, Brisbane Boys’ College, in relation to the claimant contesting her son’s expulsion from the college. Simon Black acted in a high-profile professional indemnity claim representing a former president of the New South Wales Returned and Services League in relation to alleged corruption and irregularities. Other notable practitioners include Robert Samut, Peter Murdoch and special counsel Megan O’Rourke.

Hall & Wilcox's practice led by Rhett Slocombe welcomed a team from now-defunct firm DibbsBarker, including Angela Brookes, Terry Killian, Kelli Stallard and special counsel Chris West. It acts for insurers in class actions and personal injury claims arising from a range of incidents, including bush fires, and has strong expertise in professional indemnity matters, a focus area for Melbourne-based Matthew McDonald, who frequently handles coverage disputes. The firm has deep expertise in the worker coverage sector, representing government bodies and insurers. Sydney-based special counsel Leigh Parker and senior associate Emma Baker in Brisbane are also singled out.

McCullough Robertson predominantly acts for policy holders and handles both contentious and non-contentious matters. Key focus areas for the team include advising parties to disputes in the construction, resources, financial services and utilities sectors, as well as handling front-end advisory work. The firm has an allied insurance broking business and assists clients with bespoke policies as part of a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway. Brad Russell leads the one-partner practice.

Boutique insurance firm Meridian Lawyers  is spread across its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle offices and led by managing partner Paul Baker in Sydney. Alongside a particular strength in healthcare insurance law, Baker’s group also regularly defends professional indemnity claims in other sectors including professional services and real estate. Names to note include Brisbane-based Dennis Cronin, Rob Crittenden in Sydney and Marianne Nicolle in Newcastle.

David Slatyer, Daren Curry and Michael Down jointly head Mills Oakley Lawyers' 'first rate' team. Front-end insurance specialist Louise Cantrill joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York and adds blue-chip clients, including Berkshire Hathaway, and two medical malpractice insurers to the roster. The practice represents publicly listed insurers and the private insurance market, but also attracts significant government mandates. Curry assisted the Home Building Compensation Fund with redrafting of its insurance policies and security documents. Statewide Mutual and Suncorp also count among the team's clients.

DWF has a strong presence in the worker's compensation insurance market. Hamish Broadbent and Damien van Brunschot act for clients including the Queensland local government Workcare Scheme, the Queensland government Insurance Fund and WorkCover Queensland. It also handled significant claims surrounding black lung and other diseases primarily affecting mining-sector workers. The team acts for clients across the construction, infrastructure and labour hire sectors, and, to a lesser extent, in the healthcare, logistics and not-for-profit sectors.

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Legal Developments worldwide

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