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New Zealand > Real estate and construction > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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  1. Real estate and construction
  2. Leading individuals
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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Bell Gully¬†'provides high levels of service, its responsiveness is consistently excellent and the firm has real depth and breadth of property law expertise coupled with sound commercial acumen'. In Auckland, real estate practice head¬†Andrew Petersen¬†is 'highly responsive and displays excellent commercial judgement'. He advised TńĀmaki Redevelopment on the development of a mixed tenure housing project that was converted from social housing.¬†Karl Anderson¬†and Wellington-based¬†Hugh¬† Kettle¬†also played key roles. Among the firm's standout practitioners are¬†Jane Holland,¬†who handled an acquisition for Vital Healthcare Property Trust,¬†Simon Ladd¬†and construction, infrastructure and local government specialist Tom Bennett,¬†who is 'a star - his expertise in the construction area makes him a top lawyer, and he is pragmatic, effective and conscientious'.¬†David Chisnall¬†is among the most experienced¬†commercial property partners in the country. 'Thorough-yet-pragmatic' special counsel Sally Whincop¬†and senior associates¬†Ian Becke¬†and¬†Paula Ormandy¬†are also recommended.

Chapman Tripp provides 'great service and knowledge - the advice is relevant and on time', according to one client. Another describes it as 'a "go-to" firm for any complex property matter'. Construction expert Brian Clayton and real estate specialist Matthew Carroll in Auckland lead the practice, which counts Foodstuffs North Island, Fletcher Residential and Todd Property Group among its clients. Mark Nicholson handles development, acquisitions, disposals, syndications, leasing and infrastructure matters. He advised Blackstone Group on the NZ$635m purchase of Goodman/GIC’s Viaduct Portfolio. Bill Sandston advises corporate and high-net-worth investors on the acquisition and management of their New Zealand property portfolios. Litigator John McKay is recommended for construction disputes. Newly promoted partner Hamish Bolland is a rising star. Greg Wise in Wellington has extensive experience in infrastructure, utilities and property matters, and counts the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment among his clients. He has 'fantastic industry knowledge and his advice is practical and tailored to the situation'.

Kensington Swan has 'first-class professionals and subject-matter experts' and climbs the ranking. One client remarks that it is 'my "go-to" firm for property advice - it does not procrastinate or pad out advice'. The firm is on the All of Government property panel and has one of the largest specialist construction and infrastructure practices in the country. The property practice is led from Wellington by the vastly experienced John Meads and Ish Fraser, who provides 'fantastic advice and quickly becomes a trusted adviser'. Meads advised the Crown on the Wellington Accommodation Project, which involves relocating government officials into refurbished office accommodation. Auckland-based Matthew Ockleston is a recognised expert in Public Works Act matters. He handled the lease of 20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue for Auckland Transport. The construction team in Auckland is led by infrastructure projects specialists Paul Buetow and Stuart Robertson, while Chris Booth has more than 20 years' experience in construction disputes. Brendan Cash is also recommended. Special counsel Michelle Hill is recommended as 'truly professional and extremely diligent'. Special counsel Duncan Halliwell is 'an exceptional lawyer whose commerciality sets him apart'.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is known for 'excellent responses and subject-matter knowledge - all advice is appropriate, practical and pragmatic, as well as excellent value for money'. The firm's real estate practice has six partners handling acquisitions and divestments, development projects, overseas investment approvals, commercial portfolio management, commercial leasing and infrastructure. Auckland-based head of real estate David Gilbert advised Synlait Milk on the NZ$180m acquisition of its first production plant in the North Island. Litigator and head of construction Stephen Price acted for subcontractor Wellington Gateway Partnership in the NZ$590m Transmission Gully roading project. Among the firm's many notable practitioners are construction partner Sarah Sinclair; real estate and forestry partner Ross Pickmere; commercial property and construction expert Andrew Monteith; construction partner Mark Crosbie, who has 'strong market and industry sector knowledge'; and head of the Wellington practice Patricia Green, who is 'an excellent communicator who offers great advice and has great personal skills'. Senior associates Travis Tomlinson and Miles Dean also garner praise.

Simpson Grierson is regarded as one of the leading firms for contentious construction matters, as well as for advice on major projects, including PPPs. In Auckland, litigator Graeme Christie and front-end construction partner Michael Weatherall lead the practice. Weatherall handled one of the largest mandates in the country by acting for City Rail Link in the development of a NZ$3.5bn underground rail network. Christie's highlights included advising Australian contractor Icon on the Pacifica apartment tower development. Construction litigator Jo-Anne Knight is also highly recommended. 'One of the most experienced lawyers in Auckland, if not New Zealand, in Public Works Act matters' Michael Wood leads the real estate practice, which is 'excellent - the lawyers have deep property-related expertise, particularly regarding local government legislation'. Commercial property partners Greg Towers and Greg Allen acted for purchaser Roxy-CES in the acquisition of 205 Queen Street in Auckland in the biggest sale in the city's central business district since 2010. Senior associate Nick Wilson is a rising star. Michael Scannell leads the property group in Wellington.

Anthony Harper is 'excellent - timely and efficient, with a high level of industry knowledge and a practical and common-sense approach'. Those qualities are embodied by Tim Barclay in Christchurch who leads the property practice. The firm has one of the country's largest property and construction groups with eight partners handling high-value transactions for corporate clients. Barclay recently advised Maat Group on the NZ$103m acquisition of two commercial properties in Takapuna and Tauranga. In Auckland, Edward Dunphy (who 'provides superb, practical and technical advice, and is very client-focused') and Karen Kemp lead the construction team, which benefits from the litigation expertise of Richard Smedley, Dan Hughes and newly promoted senior associate Jessica Hanning. Dunphy assisted Karaka & Drury Development with the construction of a 9,000-unit development in Auckland, which included an infrastructure funding agreement with local utility Watercare. Alistair Law and senior associate Tim Bunker are also recommended for commercial property matters. Daniel French in Christchurch also garners praise.

The property and construction team at Buddle Findlay is led by commercial property and finance partner Daniel Kelleher in Auckland and construction partner Charlotte Von Dadelszen in Wellington. The firm frequently handles high-profile projects for local authorities, including urban regeneration projects in Auckland, and has specialist expertise in Treaty Waitangi settlements. It is also strong in property finance, including in relation to innovative social housing projects, and has a growing presence in the market for infrastructure developments such as irrigation projects, telecoms projects and PPPs. Von Dadelszen focuses on leasing, construction and land-related property advice. Kelleher has more than 20 years' experience in real estate matters and acted for Panuku Development Auckland in the Transform Manukau project. He also worked with corporate partner Grant Dunn to assist Adamantem Capital with the property aspects of its acquisition of retirement village operator Heritage Lifecare. Dominic Lundon retired.

The service from DLA Piper New Zealand is 'very good, the firm understands our business and meets or exceeds our expectations', remarks a major corporate client. The firm handles property and construction matters for a blue-chip client base that includes the Ministry for Primary Industries, Hilton International Manage LLC, Mondelez and Auckland Council. In Auckland, Justin March leads the real estate team and with partner Heath Brunton, who recently joined from Chapman Tripp, he helped grocery distributor Foodstuffs North Island to managed its large property portfolio, which included advice on the acquisition of new sites and the development of strategic real estate for supermarkets, as well as franchise and lease agreements. Mark Williamson is 'a highly regarded construction contract lawyer' and with March he advised property fund Deka Immobilien Investment on the acquisition of The Lumley Centre, which is a premium-grade office tower in Auckland. Special counsel Williamena Sim is recommended for her 'good level of expertise, good focus on details and good customer service'.

Hesketh Henry in Auckland has 'a very strong construction law team, for both front-end matters and disputes, and it offers great service'. One client remarks that it has 'a strong construction team that compares well with some of the larger firms'. Key partners Nick Gillies and Christina Bryant lead the construction practice and are 'both very good lawyers who are client-focused and have strong industry knowledge'. Gillies represented subcontractor XLam NZ Ltd in a series of disputes arising from the construction of a new purpose-built student accommodation building for Otago Polytechnic. Partner Helen Macfarlane has strong expertise in construction drafting and advice, as well as in Construction Contracts Act adjudications and the defence of leaky building claims. The firm is also strong in real estate, with significant expertise in commercial property development, leasing, subdivisions and retirement villages. Real estate heads Brian Coburn and Robert Berry count Kahawai Point Development and NZ Waldorf Apartments Management among their clients.

Russell McVeagh in Auckland handles a broad range of commercial property work that includes office, retail and industrial property transactions for both overseas and domestic investors and developers. The firm recently handled the NZ$209m sale of Central Park for key client Goodman Property Trust. Property and construction group chair Ed Crook led that deal, in which new partner Anna Crosbie also played a key role. Key partner David Butler's recent highlights include acting for Kiwi Property Holdings in the sale of the Majestic Centre in Wellington to Investec Property. Butler and special counsel Ed Smithies also lead on the firm's work in major construction projects, which recently included advising Precinct Properties Wynyard on the redevelopment of the Mason Brothers Building and the development of a new office building in Auckland. Newly promoted partner Steve Rendall is also recommended, having advised the Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada on the sale of a stake in a NZ$1.15bn property portfolio.

Specialist commercial property firm Thompson Blackie Biddles in Auckland acts for property trusts, multinational organisations, NZX-listed companies, property funds, corporate receivers, residential and commercial property developers, construction firms and high-net-worth individuals in high-value and strategically important transactions. The firm's four directors - Greg Thompson, James Blackie, Joe Biddles and Sam Greenwood - all have a strong market presence and one peer remarks that 'the firm has done very well and is very well respected'. Greenwood acted for Oyster Property Management in the NZ$200m purchase of eight office towers from Goodman Property Trust, and assisted CP Auckland LP with the NZ$200m purchase of 12 office buildings from the same seller. These two deals were the country's largest commercial office transactions. For Precinct Properties, Thompson handled the negotiation of leases with key tenants, including PwC, Regus and First NZ Capital. Biddles advised Lamont & Co on its development of Fabric of Onehunga.

AlexanderDorrington Ltd is a specialist real estate and construction firm that has carved out a niche as one of the leading residential development practices in Auckland. It provides 'extremely good value for money and very short response times, as well as having wide industry knowledge'. 'We feel like valued clients and the firm provides us with exceptional service', says one source. Founding partner Debra Dorrington is 'extremely efficient and provides quality, detailed work'. She played a key role in the multi-stage residential and retail SugarTree development in Auckland, which included the unit title subdivision of a Stage II building and the sale of 270 apartments. Denise Marsden 'communicates well, and will patiently explain the reasons behind her advice'. 'Her technical understanding is unlike anyone I’ve worked with - she sees holes and plugs them where nobody else can', says one client. Jourdan Griffin is 'always available for advice and he is very commercial, understanding the implications of his advice on the deal'.

'This is the strongest PPP practice in New Zealand by a long way', remarks one client of Anderson Lloyd. 'The sector knowledge and the service provided is excellent, and the advice good and commercially focused', says a client of its work on PPPs. The firm has a strong track record in renewable energy projects, water conservation, water storage and irrigation projects, and marine development. Infrastructure and construction partner David Holden in Auckland is the key contact for PPPs in the practice, which is led by real estate partner Alan Paterson and construction specialist Anton Trixl. Holden acted for Cornerstone Infrastructure Partners in its successful bid for the Waikeria Prison Development PPP project. Mike Kerr in Christchurch (who is 'commercial and practical at achieving good outcomes for his client') handled the expansion of a major distribution centre for Foodstuffs (South Island) Properties. Also recommended is Kerry O’Donnell in Queenstown, who advised Shotover Country on sales as part of a residential development zone project.

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