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Australia > Labour and employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Labour and employment
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Steven Amendola - K&L Gates
    • Karl Blake - Minter Ellison
    • Josh Bornstein - Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
    • 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
    • John Tuck - Corrs Chambers Westgarth
    • Amanda Watt - Minter Ellison
    • Dan Williams - Minter Ellison
    • Stephen Woodbury - Ashurst

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

A 'leader in the field', Ashurst has 'outstanding capabilities in labour and employment, particularly in the public sector'; it counts the Commonwealth government, the NSW government and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as clients. The practice covers the full gamut of employment issues including industrial relations issues, employment litigation and remuneration mandates. Stephen Woodbury leads the group globally; he recently advised a client on its bargaining for a new enterprise agreement and management of a protected industrial action. Other highlights include James Hall representing a variety of companies including Anglo American and Wesfarmers in an inquest by the Queensland parliament into incidences of coal worker pneumoconiosis, Woodbury advising FedEx and TNT on an enterprise agreement and the combination of the two companies' Australia operations, and Jennie Mansfield assisting the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) with various issues including the transfer of employees following its acquisition of eChoice. Clients also praise the 'highly responsive and practical' Ian Humphreys, the 'outstandingly technical' Jon Lovell, 'analytical lawyer' Paul Vane-Tempest and the 'brilliant' Robert Lilburne. Kathy Srdanovic made partner, Stephen Nettleton is now a consultant and counsel Julia Sutherland is also recommended. Steven Amendola joined K&L Gates.

The 'top-tier' practice at Herbert Smith Freehills counts domestic and international corporates, mining and resources companies, and financial institutions among its clients; it recently acted for the Australian Mines and Metals Association and the Master Builders Association in their objection to the combination of three other unions, advised Coles on obtaining orders to stop undertaking and organising industrial action against the National Union of Workers, and assisting Tenix Solutions with transfer of business provisions. Miles Bastick leads the group with Kirsty Faichen, Anthony Longland and Drew Pearson heading up the Brisbane, Perth and Sydney teams respectively. Other key practitioners include enterprise bargaining and industrial disputes expert Rohan Doyle, newly promoted partner Anna Creegan and Anthony Wood. Sonia Millen moved in-house and Paul Burns joined Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

'Pre-eminent market player' Minter Ellison delivers 'a stellar service' that includes 'practical, sound and reliable advice'. The 'incredible' department is headed by Jim Fox and also includes 'highly regarded' practitioners Dan Williams, Amanda Watt and the 'extremely pragmatic, commercial and technically superb' Karl Blake. Williams recently represented AGL in a protracted industrial dispute, Fox acted for Linfox Australia in proceedings before the Fair Work Commission relating to alleged employee duty changes, and Watt advised several Commonwealth and state government agencies in finalising and obtaining new enterprise agreements relating to bargaining processes. Other work includes Kathy Reid leading advice to Murdoch University on the termination of its enterprise agreement, and Gareth Jolly acting for the Australian Building and Construction Commission in proceedings against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) regarding a strike at the Barangaroo construction site. Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Singtel Optus are also clients.

Employment boutique Seyfarth Shaw LLP's 'first-class team' fields 'great, pragmatic, knowledgeable and talented lawyers' that have 'a proven track record of acting in the most difficult, complex and challenging matters'. 'Well-rounded professional' Darren Perry leads the practice, Chris Gardner has 'world-beating expertise in enterprise bargaining' and workplace reform specialist Henry Skene is 'at the top of his game'. Gardner's recent work includes representing Victoria International Container Terminal in the Supreme Court in anti-picketing litigation and defending Coles in proceedings relating to employees' attempts to terminate its enterprise agreement; Perry represented Patrick Stevedores in litigation arising from the implementation of its enterprise agreement. Luke Edwards, Ben Dudley, Michael Tamvakologos, Rachel Bernasconi and senior associate Erin Hawthorne are also recommended.

The 'extremely responsive and incredibly commercial' team at Clayton Utz has expertise across labour and industrial relations disputes, enterprise bargaining, discrimination issues, board-level advice and executive remuneration programmes with notable development in the corporate, construction, energy and higher education sectors. Clients single out Hedy Cray, who is 'excellent in a crisis and technically brilliant'; the 'responsive and highly adaptive' Abraham Ash and 'pragmatic, practical and whip-smart thinker' Cilla Robinson, who 'offers no-nonsense solutions'. Recent work includes Dan Trindade acting for ExxonMobil in enterprise bargaining issues including Federal Court, High Court and Fair Work Commission proceedings, Ash representing IBS Software Services in an unfair dismissal claim filed by an employee, and practice head Saul Harben defending Aphrodite Gold in the Supreme Court in claims brought by two former directors who had their employment terminated for serious misconduct. Graham Smith is also a key name to note.

Recent mandates for Corrs Chambers Westgarth include Stephen Price representing the Australian Building and Construction Commission in proceedings relating to unlawful industrial action against BKH, Jack de Flamingh acting for Glencore in the Oaky Creek Coal dispute, the longest lockout of employees in Australia's history, and Nick Le Mare representing International Piping Products in Supreme Court proceedings related to breaches of duty against three former senior executives and directors. The team has particular strengths in the mining, construction, manufacturing, energy and financial services sectors and regularly acts for DOF Subsea, Weir Minerals and Endeavour Foundation. John Tuck heads up the department, which also fields Nicholas Ellery, Stephen Price and special counsel Marie Costa. Paul Burns joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

At K&L Gates, 'practitioners anticipate the client's needs and provide timely expert advice together with options and solutions that make it easy to make an informed decision'. The team leverages its 'intimate knowledge of the market' to 'ensure its assistance is commercial, practical and productive'. Alice DeBoos leads the practice, which was bolstered by the recruitment of 'highly reputable individual' Steven Amendola from Ashurst; Amendola is a key contact for employment disputes. The group is particularly active in the energy, public, construction, ports, sport and logistics sectors; the 'technically knowledgeable' Duncan Fletcher recently defended CBI Constructors in proceedings relating to project enterprise agreements, Christa Lenard acted for the Commissioner of Police for the NSW police force in a dispute brought by current and former police officers alleging discrimination on the basis of sexuality, and DeBoos assisted Just Eats with the employment elements of its move to an app-based delivery system. Michaela Moloney, Nick Ruskin and newly promoted partner Michael Stutley are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright excels in the public, construction, transport, energy and mining sectors; it represented a client in an application to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to have a notice from the Construction Industry Long Service Payments Board relating to whether an employee was working in the construction industry or not and their related long service leave contributions. The team also handled a significant unfair dismissal claim, and acted for a client in an anti-bullying application in the Fair Work Commission. Martin Osborne heads up the group, which also fields public sector expert Sarah Ralph, litigation specialist Sally Woodward, Jason Noakes and David Cross, who regularly handles investigations.

Michael Michalandos and Paul Brown jointly lead the practice at Baker McKenzie, which is 'at the top of its game' and provides 'an excellent service with to-the-point advice and a commercial and responsive approach'. The group handles the full spectrum of employment law advice with notable expertise in cross-border transactional work and labour law disputes, particularly anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity issues. In a recent highlight, Sean Selleck represented Appco Group Australia in a class action alleging sham contracting and non-compliance with employment obligations; other work includes Brown acting for Unilever Australia before the Fair Work Commission in an application to terminate the enterprise agreement for one of its sites, representing Sydney International Container Terminals in the dismissal of a stevedore, and defending Serco Australia in an unfair dismissal application brought by United Voice Union relating to employee negligence issues following an escape from one of its immigration detention centres. AMP Group, Caterpillar and Dell are also clients.

DLA Piper's team is singled out for its 'great, clear and commercial advice, quick turnaround and hardworking nature' and practice head Nicholas Turner has 'exceptional international employment law experience and is incredibly easy to work with'. Other noteworthy names include Melbourne group head Rick Catanzariti, who has particular expertise with employment elements of large projects and senior associate Clancy King, who 'works unbelievably hard to make sure her clients get the best outcome'. Turner recently led advice to Insurance Australia Group in relation to its contractual arrangements with its IT services provider IBM, handled multiple senior executive exits and related compliance issues for several ASX-listed companies and assisted Link Group with the employment aspects of its international acquisition of Capita Asset Services. Andrew Ball joined EY Law.

Employment boutique FCB Workplace Law utilises its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane-based teams to handle the full gamut of employment law with substantial expertise in the sport, infrastructure, manufacturing, health, retail, hospitality and recruitment sectors. Key names to note include managing partner Campbell Fisher, health and aged care expert Jessica Fisher, infrastructure and construction specialist Benjamin Gee, Rod Marshall, who handles hospitality and leisure work; aged care-focused Megan Bowe and key manufacturing name Matthew Robinson. Recent highlights include acting for the Australian Retailers Association in securing a reduction in the Sunday penalty rate for retail workers, advising Christadelphian Aged Care on its new enterprise agreement, and assisting Certis Cisco with a review of its employment practices. Nick Tindley and Bianca Seeto are the key names in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively.

HWL Ebsworth stands out for its expertise acting for government and insurance clients and benefits from its national coverage; clients include Chubb Insurance Australia, AIG and several government departments. It recently advised the South Australian government on the employment aspects of its commercialisation of transactional land services to a private sector operator including transferring employees from the public to private sector; it also represented Austrend International in claims alleging breaches of the Fair Work Act, assisted a public sector employer with the development of new strategic bargaining options to create an enterprise agreement, and advising multiple Australian government departments and agencies on adverse action claims, unfair dismissal claims, discrimination issues, employment agreements and agreement breaches. Mark Howard heads up the group, which also includes Colin Almond, Chris Egan, Erica Hartley, Brad Swebeck and Sarah Harrison.

Johnson Winter & Slattery has 'high-quality technical skills and expertise' that is 'applied with an exceptional level of practicality' and 'utilises its deep knowledge of the law and industry to give a truly great service'. The 'highly knowledgeable and strategic' Ruveni Kelleher leads the department, which focuses on employment disputes; recent work includes representing Qantas in proceedings relating to superannuation arrangements, acting for TechnologyOne in discrimination and harassment proceedings before the Australian Human Rights Commission, and representing Seven Network and Seven West Media in a dispute against a former employee alleging expense fraud, sexual harassment, sexual and disability discrimination and victimisation. Jan Dransfield, workplace change specialist Lucienne Mummé and restraint of trade and employment termination expert Dougal Ross are also names to note.

King & Wood Mallesons' department is jointly led by Murray Kellock and Philip Willox; Kellock recently advised the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet on the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Victoria, and Willox assisted Griffin Coal with a new production agreement. Andrew Gray is the key name in the firm's Sydney office; he handled the employment aspects of Humanwell Healthcare and CITIC Capital's acquisition of Ansell's sexual wellness business, advised AMP on the re-design of its safety governance system, and worked with Willox assisting South32 with various industrial relations issues, unfair dismissal proceedings and employee transfer work. Jamie Wells is also a key name to note and senior associate Ruth Rosedale focuses on the banking and financial services sectors.

Lander & Rogers' 'absolutely flawless' practice was recently bolstered by the recruitment of a team from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York including Tony Woods, special counsel Sally Moten and consultant Stephen Jauncey. The expansion strengthened the team's public sector expertise; Woods is assisting Sydney Trains and NSW Trains with its enterprise agreement negotiations and related litigation. Other mandates include the 'amazing' Daniel Proietto representing DXC Connect in injunction proceedings against former employees, Mark Diserio acting for the director of the Australian Building and Construction Commission in civil penalty proceedings alleging breaches of provisions of the Fair Work Act, and Aaron Goonrey defending Australia Post in an unfair dismissal application. Wesfarmers, Bendigo Kangan Institute and EnergyAustralia are also clients. Patrizia Mercuri left to become a Federal Circuit Court judge.

Maddocks' 'highly skilled, responsive and commercial' department is 'a standout name for public sector work'; it counts the Department of Education and Training (Victoria), NSW police force and the city of Kingston as clients. Bruce Heddle and Catherine Dunlop lead the Sydney and Melbourne teams respectively, with clients also singling out Ross Jackson, who has 'a wealth of experience'; the 'practical and pragmatic' Lindy Richardson, Karli Evans, who is 'legally top-shelf'; and Maree Skinner, who joined from now-defunct firm DibbsBarker, and is 'knowledgeable, approachable, pragmatic and responsive'. Recent highlights include representing IOOF Holdings in Victoria Supreme Court injunction proceedings to enforce post-employment restraints of trade, representing the Australian Building and Construction Commission in Federal Court proceedings relating to unlawful conduct in breach of key provisions in the Fair Work Act, and defending Melbourne City Council in a dispute brought by an employee in relation to a potentially incorrectly classified role.

With 'an excellent overall level of service', Allens is 'a go-to firm for practical, commercial and strategic advice' and is led by the 'fantastic' Simon Dewberry, who is 'calm, responsive and provides advice that is easy to understand and apply to real life scenarios'. Dewberry's recent work includes defending Rio Tinto in a dispute against a former manager relating to alleged contract breaches following reassignment to a different country and acting for Godfreys in an application made by a union to terminate its collective agreement. Veronica Siow, who 'really makes an effort to understand her clients' needs', is a key name for strategic work; she advised Hastings on the employment aspects of its bid for the concession of the NSW Land Titles Office's registry services and assisted Sydney Airport Corporation with a safety review and the appointment of a new chief executive officer. Westpac, BHP Billiton and ExxonMobil are also clients.

In Gadens Lawyers' 'excellent' department, the 'highly responsive' Brett Feltham is singled out, who 'is great to work with, client focused and tailors advice to the circumstances each situation presents'. His recent mandates include advising Richemont Australia on its Australian operations including compliance issues and employee contractual terms, and assisting Hort Innovation with workplace investigations and employee exits. Siobhan Mulcahy is recognised for her expertise in employment issues in the franchising sector and Jonathon Hadley jointly leads the group with Steven Troeth. Other clients include Williams-Sonoma Australia, Denso Automotive Systems, Ecogen Energy, Cbus Property and Suncorp Insurance Services.

Hall & Wilcox's employment expertise encompasses employment litigation, industrial relations work, corporate support, discrimination, bullying and harassment issues, workplace investigations and immigration matters. Karl Rozenbergs heads up the group, which recently saw the expansion of its Sydney offering with the recruitment of Fay Calderone, who is a key name for professional services and not-for-profit clients, from now-defunct firm DibbsBarker. Mark Dunphy, Kylie Groves, Alison Baker and Aaron Dearden are also names to note. Dearden recently assisted AusNet Services with the negotiation of a new enterprise agreement covering its transmission and distribution operations and acted for a client in the prosecution of the Australian Workers' Union following an unprotected industrial action, and Groves represented five duty officers at South African Airlines in issues surrounding their employment status as either independent contractors or employees.

Specialist employment firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers provides 'an excellent level of service paired with prompt action and a good attention to detail'. Chairman and practice head Michael Harmer is 'an expert partner in the field'; executive counsel Sandra Marks is 'practical, proactive and a pleasure to deal with'; 'excellent solicitor' Christopher Nowland is also singled out. The group handles high-profile sexual harassment and discrimination claims, senior executive terminations and general employment disputes; recent highlights include representing Findex in a claim against a former employee alleging misleading and deceptive conduct and defamation, assisting Intercontinental Exchange with obtaining an interim injunction restraining an employee from joining a competitor, and advising New Shanghai Restaurants on its compliance obligations under the Fair Work Act.

Jones Day handles the full spectrum of employment issues spanning employment agreements and policies, transfer issues, employee entitlements, terminations, redundancy programmes, transactional support, post-employment restraints and disputes. Adam Salter is the key name to note and leads the department from the Sydney office; he recently assisted Coronado Coal with the employment aspects of its acquisition of a unionised coal mine from Wesfarmers, advised Heatcraft Australia on the employment elements of the sale of its Australian, New Zealand and Asian refrigeration business to Beijer Ref, and is handling transfer and termination of employment issues for the administrators of Topshop following its liquidation. Other key clients include Cardinal Health, Chevron, McDonald's, The Boeing Company and Cylance.

Boutique firm KHQ Lawyers fields a team of 'good people who are easy to work with'; practice head Chris Gianatti is rated as 'a leading industrial relations expert' with 'deep knowledge of the law that is underpinned by a strong industrial and commercial perspective'. The firm, which 'undoubtedly punches above its weight', is experienced in the infrastructure and project space and regularly handles employment disputes; recent work examples include assisting UGL with its successful bid to be sole maintenance provider for ExxonMobil at Esso's oil and gas drilling and processing facilities, as well as assisting with related union disputes, advising ANZ on its enterprise agreement, and handling the review and changes to a competency grading system for biotechnology company CSL as well as acting for it in wrongful and constructive dismissal claims. Special counsel and 'outstanding lawyer' Claire Brown also attracts praise for her 'invaluable experience and ability to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff'.

McCullough Robertson excels in the public sector and counts various government departments and city councils as clients; it recently defended Goondiwindi Regional Council in a claim brought by two employees alleging adverse action had been taken against them following complaints they had made, represented Brisbane City Council in a hearing before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to determine whether it could ballot its workforce without obtaining union approval, and is advising Queensland Health on issues surrounding nurses' and midwives' annual leave. Michael Moy leads the department, which also includes health, aged care and education sector expert Tim Longwill and newly promoted special counsel Lydia Daly.

'Outstanding on all fronts', Mills Oakley 'provides a service that is consistently of the highest standard' with 'a very fast and attentive approach, strong and reliable advice and a genuine interest in its clients' businesses'. Ross Levin has 'second-to-none knowledge and industry understanding', Lisa Anaf is 'focused, reliable and great to deal with' and Daniel White 'provides practical advice based on a holistic approach'. In a recent highlight, Anaf defended Jaggad in a discrimination and general protection clam; other work includes advising Koko Black on transfer of business issues and an enterprise agreement, assisting Laing O'Rourke with its executive contracts, model code of practice compliance and workplace investigations, and handling contractual disputes, discrimination claims and unfair dismissal proceedings for First Solar. Malcolm Davis and Adam Lunn are also recommended.

Piper Alderman's 'concise, commercially oriented, practical and fearless' team is led by the 'astute and measured' Tim Lange, who is 'sensational to work with, responsive, attentive and aware of the client's needs and expectations'. The firm merged with legacy firm Norton Gledhill, which brought several employment lawyers including principal Chris Hartigan, who is experienced in industrial relations and discrimination claims and 'delivers to an impeccable standard'. Recent mandates include representing Sodexo in an unfair dismissal claim, and advising Dufry on its enterprise bargaining process including related union issues. Adelaide-based David Ey and Tim Capelin in Sydney are also a key name to note.

Key areas of expertise for Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors include terminations, dismissals and redundancies, discrimination issues, restraint enforcement, contract work, enterprise agreements, workplace investigations, industrial relations and employment disputes. Nigel Ward, Joe Murphy, Luis Izzo, Dianne Hollyoak and Alan Girle are the names to note.

Clyde & Co LLP leverages the firm's strength in the insurance sector and growing public sector client base to act for a roster that includes Chubb Insurance, the Department of Defence and multiple shires including the Shire of Denmark, the Shire of Sandstone and the Shire of Exmouth. The practice is highly active in the contentious space with experience encompassing disputes arising from contactual benefits, workers compensation and industrial relations issues alongside sexual harassment and bullying claims; its non-contentious work includes audits, policy recommendations and safety training. The firm's Sydney team features David Amentas, insurance specialist Christopher Smith and litigator Jenni Priestley, and the newly expanded Perth offering fields local government expert Jonathan Wyatt and his team, who joined from Sparke Helmore Lawyers.

Colin Biggers & Paisley is a key name in the market for contentious employment issues, with recent mandates including representing an aged care client in a stop bullying application in the Fair Work Commission, defending the retired general manager of Botany Council in allegations of corrupt conduct, and acting for Deakin University in discrimination, victimisation and bullying claims brought by a University lecturer. On the non-contentious side, the team assisted the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus with the employment elements of the incorporation of several of its schools, and advised a Chinese property investment company on Australian employment law issues and related contract work. Greg McCann leads the department, which also fields Megan Kavanagh, Cathryn Prowse and Paul O’Halloran.

Dentons' 'exceptional' practice is headed by 'excellent communicator' Mark Sant and includes director Brendan Milne, who is 'responsive, professional and possesses a sharp legal mind'. Sant is active in the hotels and leisure industries and Milne is a key name for industrial relations and enterprise bargaining work; Sant recently advised VenuesLive Management Services on the renegotiation of its third generation enterprise agreement and assisted AccorHotels with its general employment work; Milne acted for Qube Ports on multiple issues relating to its stevedoring workforce including roster variation and notification matters, unfair dismissal claims and Fair Work Commission disputes. UPDATE:  Since publication, Mark Sant and Brendan Milne have joined HFW.

Dianne Banks heads up the group at Gilbert + Tobin, which is recognised for its corporate support strength. In a recent highlight, Banks advised Wesfarmers on new post-IPO employment contracts for the chief executive and other senior executives of its Officeworks business; further transactional work includes assisting TPG and OTTP with the employment elements of its proposal to acquire Fairfax via a scheme of arrangement, advising on the labour aspects of Cleanaway Waste Management's acquisition of Tox Free Solutions, and acting for The Stars Group on its acquisition of a stake in CrownBet and CrownBet's subsequent acquisition of William Hill Australia. The group's contentious work includes representing Gerard Lighting in proceedings against a former employee obtaining orders by consent to restrain him from working at a competitor company. Adobe, Fujitsu, Universal Music, Avaya and Cisco Systems are also clients.

Macpherson Kelley acts for local, national and international clients with notable strengths in the aviation, construction, education, hospitality, technology, charity and professional services sectors; among its key clients are Airbus Group Australia Pacific, Redbubble and Flavour Creations. The team's recent work includes Luke Gattuso advising Prestige Inhome Care on compliance issues and the renegotiation of its enterprise agreement, and Tony Gooch acting for Veolia Environmental Services in proceedings for the approval of its enterprise agreement by the Fair Work Commission; the latter also defended Australian Sailing in Federal Circuit Court proceedings relating to a gender discrimination claim arising out of the Sail Melbourne Regatta 2014. George Haros and Stephen Hughes are also recommended.

At Squire Patton Boggs, Bruno di Girolami and Anna Elliott lead the group from Perth and Sydney respectively; di Girolami is a key name for clients in highly unionised industries and Elliott focuses on the media, technology, recruitment and financial services sectors. The team's recent work includes di Girolami acting for Spotless Group in an investigation by the Office of Energy Safety following an electrical accident that occurred in a domestic residence in which the company provided maintenance services, and representing Scope Systems in claims against three former employees alleging breaches of contractual and statutory post-employment obligations; Elliott assisted the Association of Professional Staffing Companies of Australia with compliance issues and public policy mandates. Australian Radio Network, Cathay Pacific and Flight Centre are also clients. John Oakes joined the Sydney office in 2018 from Watson Mangioni.

Thomson Geer handles matters for clients across a wide range of sectors including manufacturing companies, transport providers, financial services companies and retailers assisting with enterprise and workplace agreements, compliance programs, unfair dismissal and discrimination claims and general employment disputes. David Davies and Jacquie Seemann are the key practitioners for contentious mandates along with Adelaide-based Karl Luke, who also advises on health and safety matters. Other key names include Mark Branagan, Paul Ronfeldt, investigations expert Andrew Cardell-Ree and industrial relations specialist Jonathan Corlett.

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