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Australia > Restructuring and insolvency > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Restructuring and insolvency
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • David Cowling - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Roger Dobson - Jones Day
    • Dominic Emmett - Gilbert + Tobin
    • Clint Hinchen - Allens
    • Michael Hughes - Minter Ellison
    • Alex Linden - Kemp Strang
    • James Marshall - Ashurst
    • John Martin - Henry Davis York
    • Ross McClymont - Ashurst
    • John Nestel - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Maria O’Brien - Baker McKenzie
    • Karen O’Flynn - Clayton Utz
    • Tony Troiani - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Ian Walker - Minter Ellison
    • Ian Wallace - Allens
    • Brendon Watkins - Minter Ellison
    • Leon Zwier - Arnold Bloch Leibler

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Allens’ 16-partner team is led from Melbourne by Clint Hinchen, who is advising the lending syndicate to the McAleese Group on the restructuring of the company’s facilities. In Sydney, key contacts include Ian Wallace, who focuses on restructuring, and has particular expertise in standstill agreements, and disputes specialist Richard Harris. Harris is acting for the board and management of Vocation, following the company’s earnings downgrade and subsequent asset restructuring.

Ashurst’s expertise in distressed investing was again in evidence, with practice head James Marshall, who can ‘command a room well’, advising Sankaty Advisors and Deutsche Bank on its successful bid for the securities in the entities that conduct the GE commercial finance business in Australia and New Zealand. On the restructuring side, Ross McClymont, who heads the practice with Marshall, is acting for a lending syndicate on the restructure of a multi-currency revolving facility with Slater and Gordon.

Henry Davis York impresses with its ‘great bench strength’, which includes ‘cross-border structuring and enforcement specialistsScott Atkins and Cameron Cheetham. Also of note is head of practice John Martin, who provides ‘detailed and methodical advice’ to the likes of Ernst & Young, for whom he acted in relation to the liquidation of Caledonian Bank. Roger Dobson and Katie Higgins left for Jones Day. Alex Mufford heads the team.

At Minter Ellison, names to note include practice head Ian Walker, who has particular expertise in the financial services sector; litigator Michael Hughes, who focuses on advising banks and other credit providers on the enforcement of securities; and Brendon Watkins. KordaMentha and ANZ Bank are key clients.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s team is led by Leon Zwier, who is a ‘standout performer for his ability to push novel solutions’. Examples of the practice’s impressive insolvency practitioner work include Zwier acting for KordaMentha on the voluntary administration of Arrium Group and Jane Sheridan advising PBB Advisory on the liquidation of Gunns Group. Litigator Justin Vaatstra ‘builds great working relationships’.

Clayton Utz’s ‘personable’ team was particularly busy in the energy and resources space; in one mandate, Perth-based Cameron Belyea is acting for a lender in relation to the restructuring of Atlas Iron. In Sydney, key contacts include practice head Karen O’Flynn, who is ‘clear and authoritative’, and Jennifer Ball, who advised the directors of Arrium Group on its recapitalisation plan prior to administration.

Gilbert + Tobin is ‘best in class for large or complex corporate restructurings, particularly on difficult matters with diverse stakeholders’. The highly rated practice head Dominic Emmett is advising KordaMentha on the administration of Arrium Group. Restructuring specialist David Clee is ‘excellent in regard to complex listed security situations’; on the contentious side, Colleen Platford and Crispian Lynch are the names to note.

At Herbert Smith Freehills, areas of expertise include large restructurings and the sale of distressed debt. Sydney-based practice head John Nestel advised Arrium Group on its proposed restructuring of A$2.8bn finance debt, while Mark Clifton wins praise for his ‘commerciality, technical knowledge and ability to find solutions’. Litigator Peter Smith, who is based in Brisbane, heads the practice with Nestel.

King & Wood Mallesons has seen involvement in a number of big-ticket matters, including head of practice Tim Klineberg, who is ‘very well versed in court procedures’, advising a syndicate of 23 lenders owed approximately A$2.8bn by Arrium Group and Philip Pan acting for PPB as special purpose liquidator in relation to the liquidation of Queensland Nickel. Additional contacts are global practice head David Cowling, who specialises in asset recovery for insolvency practitioners, and litigator Tony Troiani.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s team was busy in sectors such as retail, energy and transport; in one particular highlight, Chris Cruikshank is representing Ferrier Hodgson as receivers and managers of Dick Smith. The practice’s presence in Perth has ensured the team’s involvement in a number of mining insolvencies and Chris McLeod continued to act for the receivers of Forge Group. Steven Palmer heads the practice.

Baker McKenzie’s ‘proactive’ practice is led by ‘sharp practitioner’ Maria O’Brien and includes David Walter, who ‘suggests commercial solutions to legal issues’. The team handled a number of mandates for KordaMentha, including advising in relation to Arrium Group’s administration.

At Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Jason Salman focuses on restructuring work and advised GSO Capital partners on the recapitalisation of Arrium Group. On the contentious side, Mark Wilks is ‘one of the most intelligent litigation strategists in the market’.

HWL Ebsworth’s substantial offering features Andrew O’Halloran, who focuses on recovery work for banks and is a ‘clear standout in the Adelaide market’; and Brisbane-based Wayne Jenvey, who is acting for FTI Consulting on the administration of Queensland Nickel. Warren Jiear joined from Piper Alderman.

Kemp Strang is particularly known for its contentious expertise and the team acts for a range of financiers and insolvency practitioners on asset recovery matters. The practice is particularly strong in Sydney, where names to note include Peter Harrison, Sarina Roppolo and Glen Cussen.

Litigator Kon Tsiakis now heads the practice at DLA Piper following the departure of Scott Harris to Hogan Lovells. One area of expertise is distressed real estate and Amelia Kelly is advising Westpac on its exposure to a failing commercial and residential property development in north Queensland.

Gadens Lawyers focuses on the SME market, acting for clients such as KordaMentha and Rabobank. Practice head Justin Bates provides ‘pragmatic and considered advice’, and David McIntosh is ‘an emerging young partner in the restructuring space’. *Since publication, Gadens' Sydney and Perth offices have merged with Dentons.

At Johnson Winter & Slattery, David Proudman’s team benefits from the firm’s expertise in debt finance and litigation. Proudman is acting for PBB Advisory on a number of mandates including the receivership of Black Oak Minerals. Litigator Paul Buitendag is the other name to note.

Maddocks’ five-partner practice remained busy on behalf of insolvency practitioners such as Ferrier Hodgson and FTI Consulting. Practice head David Newman is acting for Ferrier Hodgson in their capacity as liquidators and special purpose receivers of Banksia Securities.

Piper Alderman’s ‘reliable’ team continued to handle a volume of contentious mandates in the SME space. Melbourne-based Michael Lhuede is the key contact after Brisbane-based Warren Jiear, who is ‘professional, commercial and available’, left to join HWL Ebsworth.

At DibbsBarker, key contacts in Scott Guthrie’s team include agribusiness specialist Michael Goss and Macaire Bromley, who focuses on restructuring work.

The ‘highly effective and efficientWayne Kelcey is in charge at Hall & Wilcox, where recent work includes acting for Yamaha Music in Supreme Court proceedings brought against it by the liquidator of the Australian Music Group alleging unfair preference payments.

Jackson McDonald’s Perth-based team handles a broad range of work for directors, major creditors and insolvency practitioners, including class actions. Rob McKenzie and litigator Victoria Butler are the main contacts.

K&L Gates’ growing practice is led from Sydney by the well-regarded Jason Opperman, who counts PBB Advisory as a key client. Brisbane-based Ian Dorey is advising Bentleys on the liquidation of Octaviar Administration and Octaviar.

McCullough Robertson’s Brisbane-based team continued to see a steady stream of instructions in sectors such as mining and real estate. Practice head Scott Butler acted for PBB Advisory on the administration of Cockatoo Coal and three related companies.

Mills Oakley Lawyers handles both advisory and contentious work for directors and insolvency practitioners; in one highlight, practice head Stuart Lewin and Ariel Borland are advising Grant Thornton on the administration of AED.

Sparke Helmore Lawyers focuses on contentious mandates for the likes of Jirsch Sutherland and PFK. Practice head Richard Anicich and Tim Castle are the main contacts.

Squire Patton Boggs’ practice is led by Amanda Banton, whose impressive caseload includes class actions for creditors, as well as contentious work for insolvency practitioners such as Ernst & Young.

Derek Hilliard’s team at TressCox includes Kirsten Farmer, who is ‘able to pick the eyes out of a case quickly and efficiently’. The team’s workload included advising Jamieson Louttit on the liquidation of Flying Rock.

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