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Australia > Media and entertainment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Media and entertainment
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Peter Bartlett - Minter Ellison
    • Kate Jordan - Clayton Utz
    • Kevin Lynch - Johnson Winter & Slattery
    • Leanne Norman - Banki Haddock Fiora
    • Andrew Stewart - Baker McKenzie
    • Robert Todd - Ashurst

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Annabelle Quist - Johnson Winter & Slattery
    • Tim Senior - Banki Haddock Fiora
    • Walid Sukari - Clayton Utz

Who Represents Who

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Ashurst’s five-partner team is led from Sydney by Tim Brookes and Lisa Ritson and is able to ‘provide invaluable resources for high-stakes litigation’. The recommended Robert Todd is representing clients Nationwide News, one of its former editors as well as journalist Christian Kerr in Supreme Court defamation proceedings filed by Holocaust denier Frederick Toben. Anita Cade oversaw several transactions such as Trusted Media Brands’ sale of its Australian and New Zealand Reader’s Digest business to Direct Group and PMP’s acquisition of IPMG Group. Also noteworthy is Sophie Dawson who counsels major global technology companies on regulatory compliance, privacy and terms of use issues, and is defending a public sector entity in defamation proceedings. Other key clients include the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Nine Entertainment, Thomson Reuters and Condé Nast.

At Baker McKenzie the media and content practice ‘is more client-focused than other teams’, and one ‘can’t fault the level of industry expertise, acumen or appropriateness of advice’. Andrew Stewart heads the Australian TMT group and represents major media companies while the recommended Peter Ickeringill and Andrea Kennedy continue to act for Euromoney and one of its subsidiaries from the Melbourne office in breach of contract, warranty and duty, and fraud and deceit against the former owners of CIE which was acquired by the client in 2015. Andrew Stewart is currently defending The Guardian Australia in defamation appeal proceedings brought by Rabbi Yosef Feldman, and in a suit filed by one of Bluefest’s organisers, Peter Noble, pertaining to an article about the impact of the festival on the local koala population.

The substantial media group at Allens is spread across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and is headed by national sector head Gavin Smith, who has substantial expertise in sports media right deals, and transactional expert Ian McGill from the Sydney office. Fox Sport engaged the firm to handle several matters such as the acquisition of media rights from the Football Federation Australia and the establishment of an over-the-top streaming service for the AFL for non-Australian viewers. Sydney-based Kylie Brown continues to act for a leading news provider, recently overseeing significant transactions pertaining to daily papers and regional publications. Managing associate Valeska Bloch is also based in Sydney and frequently assists with data and privacy management and traditional media transactions, as well as co-heading the firm’s group for start-ups and emerging companies.

Banki Haddock Fiora’s Bruce Burke and Margaret Shearer ‘are excellent, valuable and knowledgeable advisors’ and the team ‘handles litigation in a conscientious and effective manner, creatively bringing years of experience in the industry to bear on the mechanics of the process’. Another noteworthy name is Leanne Norman who led the advice to Fairfax Media, The Age Company and several journalists with regards to defamation proceedings arising from two articles published in the Australian Financial Review; she was supported by the ‘impressive’ senior associate Tim Senior. Senior and Burke defended defamation proceedings filed by Keysar Trad, a self-pronounced Islamic spokesperson, against Harbour Radio regarding a broadcast on radio 2GB in 2005, and the equally recommended senior associate Courtney Scallan worked alongside Burke to assist a medical professional in a defamation claim against a former neighbour in connection with two letters which the defendant had sent to the NSW Medical Board. Senior associate Phillip Beattie is also a key contact.

Clayton Utz’s ‘strength is without question’, the media team ‘has a depth of talent stretching from the partners through to junior solicitors’ and ‘nothing is ever too much trouble’. In terms of media rights work, Kate Jordan ‘gets things done – in a calm and professional manner’ and continues to act alongside the recommended Ken Saurajen for the Australian Rugby League Commission with regards to the sale of National Rugby League rights in Australia and New Zealand. Practice leader Bruce Lloyd is also a key contact who is assisting a major telecoms provider with the renegotiation of its content supply arrangements; litigation expert Timothy Webb continues to counsel Nova Entertainment on strategic legal issues such as its rebranding strategy and its promotional partnership with Vodafone. The group recently added TransGrid and Brisbane Airport Corporation to its client roster, which includes names such as News Corp, 21st Century Fox and Sanzar.

Gilbert + Tobin frequently handles high-profile litigation work; Crispian Lynch represented Nine Network in proceedings brought by Win Corporation arising from the client’s alleged violation of a supply agreement pertaining to broadcasting rights. Michael Williams represented Universal Music in a joint venture dispute against Mr Stephen Pavlovic, the other 50% shareholder of Modular Recordings. The team also oversees corporate matters such as APN Outdoor Group’s merger with oOh!media with the advice of Peter Cook, Rachael Bassil and Gina Cass-Gottlieb. Other noteworthy names include practice co-head Tim Gole, senior intellectual property litigator Siabon Seet and special counsel Rebecca Dunn.

Luke Dale leads HWL Ebsworth’s media and entertainment team from the Adelaide office and recently bolstered the offering through the addition of senior associate Rebecca Lindhout from Fox Sports to the Sydney office. In the publishing space, Melbourne-based Nicholas Pullen advises clients on pre-publication issues, especially in connection with highly sensitive material pertaining to child abuse and terrorism. In terms of work for individuals, Adelaide-based Peter Campbell is representing a political figure in efforts to obtain published apologies, compensation and the removal of articles from various outlets, including online sources. The team is also proficient in contractual arrangement work and media rights issues, as shown by its work for a new client in relation to its broadcast rights contract with a sports body. Special counsel Veronica Mignone sits in Adelaide with Dale and Campbell and is part of the team assisting Seven Network with its freedom of information action against the South Australian government in relation to requests of documents pertaining to the Henry Keogh case. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ media and entertainment team ‘has an unparalleled knowledge of the issues impacting the industry’ and particularly Damien Bailey is highly recommended. Kristin Stammer acted for BMG Music on its acquisition of J Albert & Son as well as for a leading airline with regards to an agreement with a major airline for the provision and distribution of content. Another name to note is the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Rebecca Maslen-Stannage who assisted Seven West Media with its investment in online job outsourcing market Airtasker and jointly with Stammer advised on its acquisition of The Sunday Times newspaper and the PerthNow website from Nationwide News. Sarah Kenny retired from the partnership but remains a consultant to the firm.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s team advises on pre-publication, defamation, contempt and restricted publication issues and has ‘a deep talent base and exceptional technical expertise’. Practice head Kevin Lynch is a ‘shrewd operator with sound judgement’ who attracts much praise for his ‘attention to detail, hands-on approach and sense of humour’. The group acts for broadcasters and corporate victims of defamation, as shown by Lynch’s current work for Aerocare and its owner Archer Capital with regards to media coverage surrounding a campaign by the Transport Workers Union aiming to expose alleged workers’ fatigue, improvised sleeping bags and threats to the safety of airport passengers. Melbourne-based senior associate Annabelle Quist has ‘an appetite to fight and a willingness to go the extra mile’; she supported Lynch in his defence of Bauer Media in the Supreme Court action filed by actress Rebel Wilson for alleged defamatory material published in a number of articles. Other significant clients include Yahoo!, Microsoft and Seven Networks.

Peter Bartlett sits at the helm of Minter Ellison’s Melbourne-based media offering and services domestic and international media companies as well as publishers on the full range of regulatory advice, litigation work and transactional support. A team supported by litigation specialist David Poulton advised Fairfax Media, The Age Company and award-winning investigative journalist Nick McKenzie on several contentious matters involving Tony Madafferi who has sued the clients for defamation when the latter released a series of articles exposing Mr Madafferi’s alleged criminal connections. Special counsel Veronica Scott is part of the group providing ongoing pre-publication advice to a group of publishers including BuzzFeed; she also continues to act for Dr Pieter Mourik on a pro bono basis in two defamation actions brought by Dr Roland and Mrs Anna von Marburg in connection with comments made by third parties on a Facebook page for which the client is held responsible as a spokesperson. The group also finds key mandates in the government and sports law spaces, where it handles issues with reputational elements.

Simpsons Solicitors’ clients ‘rely with confidence on the intimate knowledge of the publishing industry’; the team features Adam Simpson, who impresses with his ‘communication skills, manners and ability to leave ‘legalese’ behind’. Jules Munro jointly heads the practice with Simpson and Mark Bamford, who has ‘extensive legal experience and a good sense of what is commercially and practically appropriate’, from the Sydney office. Special counsel Ian McDonald provided pre-publication advice to Hachette and Sally Faulkner with regards to defamatory and inflammatory material pertaining to the effective kidnapping of her children by their father and her failed attempt to recover them from Lebanon, which surrounded her with controversy. The group also handles legal and financial issues in the production of television series and feature films such as Pacific Rim 2. Solicitor Kieren Martin ‘has a great eye for detail’ and draws praise alongside senior lawyer Kris Darmody who recently joined the firm from an in-house position at Flying Bark Productions.

Acting for clients such as Channel 7 Melbourne, The Conversation and The Big Issue, Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s media offering led by Richard Leder specialises in defamation proceedings, contempt and pre-publication advice. The group has recently received instructions from a well-known actress to represent her both as claimant and defendant in defamation claims, and continues to provide all pre-publication advice to one of the main free-to-air networks in Australia. Litigation expert Tom Hutton was recently promoted to senior associate in the Melbourne office and continues to be the point of contact for clients including ZooSkyMedia, who engaged the firm to advise it as the plaintiff in a breach of joint venture claim against Australia Zoo and individual members of the Irwin family.

The media, reputation and information protection department at Kennedys represents clients such as former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, Unaoil and the Ashani family, and Western Sydney Football Club, the GWS Giants. Practice head Patrick George is currently acting for journalist Elizabeth Wilson in her defamation claim against actor Rebel Wilson on the basis of a number of tweets alleging that the claimant had harassed members of the defendant’s family, while Rebekah Giles is assisting Dame Carol Kidu – former Opposition Leader in Papua New Guinea – and several other parties in an action against Media Stockade and Hollie Fifer regarding a documentary film they produced. Other recent work highlights include George’s work for Catherine Burn, Deputy Commissioner of Police, in connection with public inquiries into the surveillance of NSW police officers as part of anti-corruption initiative, and the team’s advice to the Australian Olympic Committee and its president on suits arising from the arrest and prosecution of Australian athletes during the Rio Olympic Games.

Katrina Rathie heads King & Wood Mallesons’ media and entertainment department, which has particular strength in the areas of new media, advertisement and entertainment law. Melbourne-based Michael Swinson advised Telstra on the negotiations of a sponsorship and digital rights agreement with Netball Australia, and John Swinson, partner in charge of the Brisbane office, advised the Pacific Consortium on its bid for the acquisition of Tatts Group, which was eventually abandoned. On the contentious side, Rathie and senior associate Maggie Chan represented Procter & Gamble in its successful bid for an interlocutory injunction against the Duracell Star Wars: the Force Awakens integrated advertisement campaign. Scott Bouvier is also a key contact who acts for sports organisations, iconic venues and entertainment companies.

Mark O’Brien Legal is ‘very good at giving fast, commercial and practical legal advice, taking into account the needs of the client’s business and the demands of the industry’. The team is spearheaded by Mark O’Brien, who ‘is very well connected and his view carries weight’, and ‘highly skilled litigator’ Paul Svilans, who is noted for his ‘great judgement’; they recently represented Daily Mail Australia in defamation proceedings arising from an online article suggesting an Australian citizen joined pro-Russian Ukranian rebels condoning the shooting down of flight MH17, and successfully settled two matters on behalf of Nationwide News related to articles alleging former soldier Sun McKay was linked to the murder of a security guard at the Baghdad Embassy. At senior associate level, Raeshell Tang and Monica Allen are recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright acts for Fairfax Media, the Independent Print Media Group and Junkee Media, among others. Martyn Taylor, who co-heads the practice with Nick Abrahams, advised the Catholic Education Network on the procurement and implementation of new media and educational content services, while Abrahams was part of the team representing Albert Investments on the sale of J Albert & Son to BMG Music. In other highlights, the team is currently overseeing the deployment of a video service to compete with Netflix in a South East Asian jurisdiction, and assisted a digital news group with the sale of 85% of its stake to oOh!media. Head of the intellectual property group Frances Drummond is also a noteworthy contact. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

The ‘level of service is impressive’ at TressCox Lawyers, where the ‘exceptional’ Jennifer Huby displays ‘strength through her thinking – legal and non-legal’. She is currently handling all issues arising from the documentation for an interactive attraction, and is acting for a British international television content producer and distributor in its acquisition of an independent Australian television production company. In the music space, the group is representing a band with regards to all legal aspects of its world tour, and an Australian disk jockey in connection with her transfer to another radio station. On the more junior echelon of the team, clients recommend special counsel Clare Mirabello who is ‘a great support’.

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