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

Editorial

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
    • Walid Sukari - Clayton Utz

Ashurst's breadth of expertise extends to all areas of media and entertainment law and it acts for an enviable client list on commercial transactions, branding and advertisement, copyright issues, pre-publication and regulatory matters. Defamation is another specialist area in which Robert Todd represents a global technology company in two notable contentious matters relating to defamatory material displayed online, with the outcome expected to be of wide-reaching significance for the industry. Practice head Lisa Ritson assists publisher CondĂ© Nast with its intellectual property matters in Australia. Anita Cade is experienced in complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions and part of a team that advised Trusted Media Brands on the sale of its Asia Pacific Reader’s Digest businesses. Sophie Dawson departed to join Bird & Bird.

Baker McKenzie stands out for its ‘short response times and considered and thorough work’. The team, headed by Andrew Stewart, ‘delivers a level of service and expertise not experienced elsewhere’. Stewart focuses on new content distribution technologies and assisted the Motion Picture Association of America with its successful applications to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from allowing access to sites that infringed copyrights of its members, which include Sony, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox. Peter Ickeringill and Andrea Kennedy ‘have an innate understanding of the media landscape’ and advise Daily Mail Australia on digital media agreements, content review and influencer arrangements. On the defamation front, the team represented The Guardian News and Media Australia following a claim by the owner of Bluefest Music Festival. Additional areas of expertise for the group include broadcasting regulation, copyright litigation, media transactions and pre-publication advice.

Ian McGill and Gavin Smith jointly lead the team at Allens, which counts Google, Sony, Walt Disney and Twentieth Century Fox among its clients. It has particular expertise in relation to sports broadcasting rights and Smith recently advised Fox Sports Australia on its A$1.18bn six-year agreement with Cricket Australia. Other notable highlights included acting for Greyhound Racing Victoria on its A$80m agreement with Sky Channel for the broadcasting rights to its races and assisting the Commonwealth Games Federation on the sale of international broadcasting rights to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Newly promoted partner Valeska Bloch was part of a team handling application development and content license arrangements for Samsung. The practice also assists its media clients with IP matters and has been strengthened with IP specialist Michael Park from Norton Rose Fulbright .

Clayton Utz advises on strategic arrangements, media ownership, mergers and acquisitions, defamation and reputation management issues. Kate Jordan is advising the Australian Rugby League Commission on current and future media rights arrangements. Sport broadcasting deals are an area of focus for the team; Jordan advised Sanzar on the global media rights sale for the 2017-2021 rugby seasons. Bruce Lloyd heads the team, which includes special counsel Walid Sukari. Timothy Webb is another name to note; he is advising NOVA Entertainment on its rebranding strategy.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth ‘provides an excellent service’ and possesses ‘great media sector knowledge’. Practice head Richard Leder is ‘succinct and approachable, with a vast knowledge of the industry’. Defamation is a core focus and the team represented actress Rebel Wilson in her highly publicised claim against Bauer Media, which (prior to a successful appeal) resulted in the highest award for defamation-related damages in Australian history. James North is the name to note on the transactional side; he advised Toronto-based Blue Ant Media on its purchase of Australian media company Racat Group. Other areas of expertise include contempt, privacy, and legislative restrictions. Adam Foreman joined from Clayton Utz. Special counsel Jennifer Dean is recommended for competition and regulatory matters in the media sector.

Gilbert + Tobin's practice covers dispute resolution, rights management and licensing, IP protection, data management and privacy as well as competition and regulation issues. Michael Williams and Tim Gole jointly head the team; the former advised a streaming media company on the high-profile appropriation of the TV series Romper Stomper by far-right political group Patriot Blue, resulting in the group retracting its online presence. It regularly advises a media intelligence company on online media and copyright issues; Siobhan Seet represented the client in its claim against Meltwater in relation to unpaid copyright fees. Technology-sector expert Lesley Sutton joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Herbert Smith Freehills is well-regarded for its work on large and complex transactions. Jointly with the Singapore office, Rebecca Maslen-Stannage advised Apple on its acquisition of Shazam Entertainment and Kristin Stammer assisted Seven West Media with its acquisition of The Sunday Times newspaper and PerthNow website from Nationwide News. Newly promoted partner Malika Chandrasegaran is a media and entertainment sector transactions specialist and with Maslen-Stannage advised Fairfax Media on its separation from Domain. Tony Joyner heads the team. Damien Bailey is another name to note.

HWL Ebsworth's team has been strengthened by the arrival of Jennifer Huby following the firm’s merger with TressCox Lawyers, bolstering the expertise in the television, film, music and live performance industries. The team is also active in the radio, sport, reputation management, newspaper and book publication sectors. Peter Campbell, who jointly heads the practice with Luke Dale, successfully defended News Corporation in a defamation claim brought by Sandra De Poi. In another highlight, Melbourne-based Nicholas Pullen is acting for Geoffrey Rush in a claim against Nationwide News over allegations published by its subsidiary The Daily Telegraph.

Johnson Winter & Slattery's team is noted for its ‘first-rate industry knowledge’ and ‘high quality of service’. Sydney-based practice head Kevin Lynch has ‘years of experience, commercial nous and a healthy dose of common sense’; he has a focus on defamation and represented Bauer Media in the Court of Appeal regarding the highly publicised defamation damages awarded to Rebel Wilson, resulting in the actress having to repay the majority of the original award. He also defended Microsoft in defamation proceedings in relation to Bing search engine results. Yahoo! and a number of other international internet companies capitalise on Lynch's 'ability to advise on complex search engine liability issues’. Television broadcasters and magazine publishers also count among its clients and additional strengths include contempt, copyright and trade practices advice. Sam Johnson 'is very experienced in advising on publication issues'.

King & Wood Mallesons renders ‘very detailed and practical’ advice and the team excels in assisting with media transactions, licensing deals and media regulatory issues. Sydney-based practice head Katrina Rathie has a focus on advertising issues and recently acted for LG following a complaint made by Samsung to the Advertising Claims Board in relation to LG’s media campaign for televisions. Other notable highlights included assisting Disney with the Australian competition and foreign investment regulatory processes for its high-profile acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox. Brisbane-based technology and IP expert John Swinson is ‘down to earth, practical and understands business needs’.

Minter Ellison covers the full range of matters in the media space, with expertise in defamation, broadcasting and online content regulations, copyright and licensing and media-sector transactions. Peter Bartlett leads the practice from Melbourne and is an expert in publication risks and reputation management. He regularly acts for Fairfax Media, recently successfully defending the client against real estate advertising company REA Group, which was seeking damages and corrective advertising. Other work highlights included representing Foxtel in Federal Court proceedings, which resulted in the nationwide blocking of pirate websites The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt. Andrew Short in Adelaide acted for The Advertiser in an appeal to the Supreme Court of South Australia. Melbourne-based David Poulton is another name to note.

Bruce Burke and Leanne Norman jointly head the practice at Banki Haddock Fiora with a focus on defamation work, providing pre-publication advice and handling large and complex litigation. Norman advises Fairfax Media on its Australian print and online network and recently represented the client in Federal Court defamation proceedings brought by Chinese-Australia billionaire Chau Chak Wing. In a notable highlight, Burke represented WIN Television in proceedings brought by Roger Bailey, who alleges that a televised news piece contained allegations causing reputational damage. The team has been bolstered by the promotion to partner of Phillip Beattie and the arrival of Jake Blundell from Benjamin Lawyers. Tim Senior has been called to the bar.

Bird & Bird is noted for its 'growing capacity' following the arrivals of Sophie Dawson from Ashurst and of Rugby Australia's former general counsel, Rich Hawkins, who is an expert in sports media rights deals. Dawson ‘has great depth of experience across media issues’ and continues to advise Nine Entertainment on a privacy matters. Shane Barber is an integral member of the team and recently advised Toronto-listed Kew Media Group on its acquisition of US and Australian-based Essential Quail Media Group. In a further highlight, it assisted Star India with its negotiations with Cricket Australia to obtain international broadcasting rights. The team ‘has great media sector and privacy law knowledge’ and covers the full spectrum of media-related matters. Key clients include Microsoft, Expedia and GlaxoSmithKline.

Martin Ross heads the practice at Hall & Wilcox and has considerable experience working on media rights transactions, sponsorship agreements and sports-related mergers and acquisitions. Ross is supported by Mark Lebbon, a senior associate with particular strengths in sporting event and intellectual property commercialisation, technology licensing agreements and corporate governance and structuring. Clients include sporting organisations, public and private corporations and governing bodies.

Kennedys is well regarded for defamation, reputational risk, and sports dispute matters and has substantial expertise in the protection of privacy and confidential information. The practice predominantly acts for claimants and clients include corporations, politicians, celebrities and sporting bodies. In two separate matters, practice head Patrick George represented former Prime Ministers of Australia, Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating, in proceedings against ABC News and The Sydney Herald respectively regarding false and defamatory articles published by the outlets. The team also represented John Coates in defamation proceedings against Fairfax Media resulting from allegations that he played a role in corrupt sponsorships provided to the Australian Olympic Committee. Rebekah Giles is another name to note and frequently handles commercial media disputes.

Sydney-based Mark O'Brien Legal is ‘never found wanting’ and possesses ‘excellent industry knowledge and expertise in defamation and media litigation’. The two-partner team is led by Mark O’Brien, ‘the best in the defamation business’, and the ‘highly experienced and skilled litigator’ Paul Svilans. The pair are defending Channel Nine in defamation proceedings brought by Denis Wagner, co-founder of Wagners, and his three brothers. In another highlight, Svilans and O’Brien successfully represented cricketer Chris Gayle in a claim against The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times in relation to allegedly indecent behaviour in the team dressing room.

Norton Rose Fulbright's team has been bolstered by Peter Mulligan, following the firm’s merger with now-defunct Henry Davis York. He adds a number of new entertainment-sector companies to the client roster. Nick Abrahams and Martyn Taylor jointly lead the practice, which has a particular focus on digital content and internet-based media. The team also handles transactions, recently advising a client on a significant acquisition, including advice on cross-media ownership regulation and regulatory approvals.

The ‘excellent’ team at Simpsons Solicitors is ‘commercially aware and renders technically brilliant advice’. ‘Valued for his knowledge and communications skills’, Adam Simpson heads the team alongside Jules Munro and Mark Bamford. Defamation, broadcast regulation and deal structuring are among the team's strengths, with a particular focus on the protection, enforcement and commercialisation of intellectual property. Simpson acted for Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated, Eminem’s music publishers, in their dispute with the National Party of New Zealand which used a track resembling ‘Lose Yourself’ for its 2014 election campaign. On the film and television front, Bamford and Simpson assisted Fulcrum Media Finance and Hoodlum Active with the financing of several projects. Associate Amy Grondal has IP and corporate expertise in the media sector.

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