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Australia > Construction > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Construction
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Kate Bower - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Vanessa McBride - Clayton Utz

Ashurst’s ‘highly responsive’ team possesses ‘excellent industry knowledge’ and ‘ensures access to partners at all times’. The team adeptly advises on front- and back-end construction matters in the transport, social infrastructure, and energy and resources sectors. It regularly acts for Commonwealth and state government agencies as well as private sector clients such as retailer Woolworths, a longstanding client. In the busy infrastructure sector, a large team led by Lee McDonald continues to advise TfNSW on the £11bn Sydney Metro project, Australia’s largest-ever public transport project, and Grant Rowlands assisted V/Line with the Murray Basin rail project, an extensive upgrade to improve Victoria’s rail freight network. The latter also acts for the City of Melbourne on the ongoing restoration and renewal of its 19th-century Queen Victoria market. Rowlands and McDonald jointly head the 16-partner practice, which has grown significantly with new appointments at senior associate and counsel level. A number of partners come in for praise, among them Gareth Sage for his ‘excellent knowledge of government practices’, construction and infrastructure disputes specialist Georgia Quick, and Mark Disney.

Clayton Utz is valued for its ‘strategic and commercial advice’ and ‘brilliant response times’, and ‘the depth of the team means that the solution is never far away, even on unique or more complex requests’. The broad client base includes public sector clients, contractors, and energy and resources sector companies. In the transport sector, Steven Murray advised the State of Victoria on the 26km, $12.5bn North East Link, the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history. Extremely well-regarded practice head Sergio Capelli is advising Roads and Maritime Services on Australia’s largest regional infrastructure project, the $2.9bn Pacific Highway upgrade, via the duplication of 155km of road in New South Wales; the project uses a delivery partner model that has never been implemented in Australia. The team fields a number of other well-regarded individuals, among them Jo Pugsley, Marko Misko and the ‘smart and commercially canny’ Dale Brackin, whose ‘legal acumen is impressive’. On the contentious side, Frank Bannon is particularly rated, as is the ‘insightful, driven and strategic’ Jonathan McTigue, who is 'in touch with market expectations’. Vanessa McBride has been promoted to special counsel.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s team has strong contentious capabilities, coupled with a busy infrastructure and transport front-end practice, and remains a key player in the market. Regarded practice head Ben Davidson has been busy representing a client in a high-value dispute, and, in a separate matter, acted in an international arbitration matter. Chris Ryder continues to represent an engineering and infrastructure company in contentious matters in the resources sector; he and Rod Dann regularly act for a number of major contractors. Serco sought the team's advice in relation to its successful bid to operate and maintain facilities under the Grafton Prison PPP, New South Wales’ largest correctional centre. Jane Hider regularly acts for government clients. Civil engineer and lawyer Michael Earwaker is regarded for technical disputes. Andrew Stephenson is highly regarded. Simon Ashworth left to join K&L Gates.

King & Wood Mallesons is ‘very good tactically, with depth of strength across the country’. The team features the recognised Peter Pether, ‘a market leader in construction disputes’, and Scott Budd, who has ‘depth of front- and back-end experience’. Key highlights included assisting TfNSW with Sydney’s multibillion-dollar Parramatta Light Rail project, and Budd and Shannon Etwell, who possesses ‘great knowledge of current industry trends’, advising the Destination Brisbane Consortium on the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project, a large-scale integrated resort development on Brisbane’s CBD riverfront. James Forrest and Juliana Jorissen come in for praise; also recommended is newly promoted partner Amy Munro, ‘a rising star with true commitment’.

Minter Ellison’s 42-partner team continues to act on significant infrastructure and development projects across several sectors, and regularly receives instructions from governments, private sector consortia and financiers. The practice, which is led by the extremely well-regarded Pamela Jack, includes the widely commended Stewart Nankervis, who acted for the winning consortium (CPB Contractors and John Holland) on the West Gate Tunnel project, set to be Victoria’s longest tunnel. Elizabeth McKechnie advised the City of Parramatta Council on the Parramatta Light Rail project development, to be delivered by TfNSW. The team also assisted Queensland Rail with its Cross River Rail project, a 10.2km rail line, including a 5.9km twin tunnel under the Brisbane river and Brisbane CBD, as well as with the associated construction of four high-capacity underground stations. Nicole Green and Peter Wood also come in for praise.

Allens’ team is ‘well managed’ and 'highly responsive'; the expertise and seniority of its lawyers represents good value for money’. The practice, which is jointly headed by Leighton O’Brien and Nick Rudge, is advising contractors, developers, operators of infrastructure assets and state government departments and agencies; O’Brien, who ‘understands what matters’ and ‘provides clear and concise advice’, acted for Multiplex Constructions on its £2.7bn, 50-storey tower in the heart of Sydney’s harbour area, Circular Quay, forming a part of the 11,000sqm Quay Quarter Sydney precinct. ‘Excellent problem solver’ Emma Warren advised a consortium in relation to the Victorian government’s $1.8bn Western Roads upgrade, Australia’s first PPP encompassing more than 260km of road maintenance works. David Donnelly is recommended for infrastructure sector construction matters.

Herbert Smith Freehills has seen some generational change after the departure of eight senior partners to White & Case LLP in 2016, prompting a large number of internal promotions in the 20-partner team headed by Toby Anderson. The newly composed team continues to handle significant construction, PPP, social and economic infrastructure matters. Recent work includes advising Macquarie Bank in relation to its unsolicited proposal to the NSW government regarding the Sydney Metro Martin Place station, including a fully integrated over-station development, and Richard Wilkinson advised Transurban on the multimillion-dollar West Gate Tunnel project in Melbourne. The team also received front-end instructions on health, housing and prison projects, though its back end capabilities suffered due to the departure of disputes specialist Hamish Macpherson, who also joined White & Case LLP. Kate Bower is a highly active senior associate.

Norton Rose Fulbright has seen some change, with a team of four departing to Pinsent Masons LLP; Kevin Arkwright, Graham Read  and Alex Whiteside joining as part of the firm’s merger with the now-defunct Henry Davis York; and back-end partners Penelope Ford and Phillipa Beck joining from Minter Ellison and a consultancy, respectively. One consortium of construction companies instructed the team on a high-value, high-profile PPP in Melbourne. Construction disputes are another strength of the practice. Practice head James Morgan-Payler and Grant Ahearn are well regarded.

White & Case LLP’s impressive market entry in late 2016 has led to instructions on a number of significant matters; the 13-partner team, which features Andrew Clark, Josh Sgro, Joanne Draper, Alan Rosengarten and Joel Rennie (formerly all at Herbert Smith Freehills), is led by Hamish Macpherson, who joined in May 2018 from the same firm. Major recent construction projects include its ongoing advice to the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority on all aspects of the $8.3bn Melbourne Metro Rail project, and to Transurban on its market-led proposal to the Victorian government to build the $5bn West Gate Tunnel development, currently Victoria’s biggest transport project. The practice also has a strong track record acting for international clients on the construction aspects of renewables projects. More recently, John Tivey relocated to Melbourne from the firm’s Hong Kong office to support the busy practice, and construction and infrastructure disputes partner Brad Strahorn joined from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Baker McKenzie’s five-partner practice, which is led by Anthony Whelan, remains busy with front-end work as well as construction and engineering disputes, and features the highly regarded Leigh Duthie, Alex Hartmann and counsel Geoff Wood. Wood advised architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners on the design of five metro stations as part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project. Aleisa Crepin continues to represent Built Environs in a dispute arising out of the Terminal 1 Perth domestic and international airport project, and Hartmann advises the University of Technology Sydney on several construction projects as part of its campus transformation plan; he also regularly acts for Aldi in front- and back-end matters, most recently on the refurbishment of over 300 stores.

DLA Piper’s ‘strong and committed’ team delivers a ‘great service’ characterised by ‘clear business acumen and industry knowledge’. Highlights included advising the Destination Brisbane Consortium on its £1.6bn Queen’s Wharf development in the Brisbane CBD, and the team assisted the Australian Football League (AFL) with the £127m Etihad Stadium and Docklands precinct redevelopment. Jane Baddeley and Mark Huntington have ‘wealth of industry knowledge and experience’ and are ‘great assets to a project team’. John Gallagher and Richard Edwards jointly head the practice that includes the ‘extremely good’ disputes specialist Gitanjali Bajaj; she led on a number of high-value construction disputes in the energy sector. David Nancarrow left to take up a role in-house, while infrastructure lawyers Dan Brown and Alex Guy departed to Ashurst.

Pinsent Masons LLP continues to bolster its offering since establishing its Australian presence in 2015. The firm added four partners from Norton Rose Fulbright – Matthew Croagh, Robert Buchanan, Adrienne Parker and Bill Ryan – and the former head of its global practice, Fraser McMillan, has relocated to Sydney from the UK to lead the growing team that now counts 14 partners. Significant recent matters include the team’s advice to the facilities management joint venture comprised of Pacific Partnerships, Serco Australia and UGL on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, as well as to Laing O’Rourke on its successful tender to deliver the Sydney Metro City and Southwest-Central Station main works. Greg Campbell assisted Spotless Facility Services with service delivery and operational issues in relation to the New Royal Adelaide Hospital PPP, which is the largest hospital PPP undertaken in Australia and the largest infrastructure project in South Australia.

Clyde & Co LLP’s team is ‘quick, capable, responsive and highly committed’, and features the ‘excellent’ Beth Cubitt and Glen Warwick, who displays ‘exceptional commercial and strategic understanding’. The practice has a strong track record acting for contractors, including in significant back-end matters. The team regularly represents a global construction services provider and engineering contractor in contentious matters, and has received instructions on a number of urban renewal developments, transport and infrastructure projects as well as on construction issues related to energy sector projects. Laing O’Rourke sought advice on revising its internal risk model. David McElveney heads the four-partner practice, which also includes Kon Nakousis, noted for his expertise in large-scale residential and commercial developments.

Colin Biggers & Paisley’s established and stable team led by Brad Kermond fields 15 partners across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and acts for government agencies, property developers, contractors and engineers. Jonathan Stafford acted for Downer on its tender for TfNSW’s Regional Rail PPP project, involving the manufacturing of 28 trains and the construction of a maintenance facility. On the contentious side, James Neal represents Laing O’Rourke in variation, delay and disruption claims in relation to a transport interchange project in Newcastle. The team has been bolstered by Greg Begaud arriving from Jones Day; Julian Mellick has been promoted to the partnership.

At Gadens Lawyers, Jim Demack leads the 12-partner team, which regularly acts for commercial and residential developers, contractors and regional and local councils. In one high-value matter, the team is acting for superannuation fund Hostplus in relation to the $2bn Moonee Valley racecourse redevelopment into an urban lifestyle precinct, and continues to act for AMP on Perth’s Karrinyup shopping centre redevelopment. ISPT instructed the firm in relation to the design and construction of the commercial development at 271 Spring Street, Melbourne. Michael Bampton joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York. John Kehoe left to join HWL Ebsworth in July 2018.

HWL Ebsworth’s broad practice regularly acts for principals, government agencies, sponsors, financiers, and contractors in a range of sectors, including aged care, health, mining and resources, infrastructure, telecoms and building. Recent work includes advising on PPPs, infrastructure projects, residential and mixed-use developments, childcare centres, and hotel developments. Sonya Kroon advised Cbus Property on the $378m Newmarket Randwick redevelopment, including 642 apartments, terraces and townhouses, a 2,300sqm retail village and 5,000sqm of parkland. The NSW government’s Department of Industry instructed the practice on the Eden Wharf extension and Safe Harbour project to enable the docking of mega cruise ships that exceed 300 metres in length. The practice has been bolstered by Simon Walsh and Jane Wild joining from Ashurst and the now defunct firm DibbsBarker, respectively; Tony Mylne, who joined through the firm’s merger with TressCox; and John Kehoe, who arrived from Gadens Lawyers. Ross Williams heads the 20-partner team. Theo Kalyvas and Paul Deschamps are recommended.

Jackson McDonald’s team is ‘proactive and flexible’, ‘fully understands clients’ demands’ and ‘creates value during contract negotiations’. The Perth-based four-partner practice acts for a range of clients, including principals, developers, contractors, consultants and subcontractors. The team has been instructed on inner-city redevelopments, represented clients in several disputes both in the public infrastructure and energy sectors, and regularly acts for one particular state government department. Head of team Basil Georgiou is ‘very good’, has ‘experience in the industry’ and 'gives practical advice’; architect and lawyer Isla McRobbie is ‘strategic, intelligent and smart’. Anthony Bereyne focuses on back-end construction work. Special counsel Rebekah O’Brien joined from Allens.

Jones Day frequently advises on the construction aspects of large energy and resources projects, particularly in relation to back-end issues. Non-contentious advice included acting for Lendlease on its project with Crown Resorts and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority regarding the multibillion-dollar hotel resort complex at Barangaroo South. Lendlease Singapore, as construction contractor, instructed the team on the Paya Lebar Central project in Singapore, a mixed-use urban development site. John Cooper and Simon Bellas jointly head the eight-partner team, which includes the well-regarded Paul Riethmuller. Bill Napier left to join the Australian Government Solicitor as general counsel.

Maddocks’ team handled matters in the residential, transport and infrastructure sectors, coupled with a busy back-end practice. Andrew Pitney heads the six-partner team; he advised WBHO Infrastructure on its successful bid for the design and construction in relation to the Outer Suburban Arterial Roads PPP, the largest road-upgrade project in Victoria to date. Andrew Chapman assisted TfNSW with the Blue Mountains Route Clearance project, which involves the modification of tunnels, station platforms and rail lines in the Blue Mountains. The recommended Alicia Sheridan advised the Lendlease–Bouygues–John Holland consortium on contracting arrangements regarding its successful bid for the large-scale Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel project. In the property sector, Mathew Stulic represented Watpac in litigation regarding a commercial high-rise development in Sydney’s CBD. Special counsels Sefton Warner and Declan Manly joined from Norton Rose Fulbright and the Victorian Bar, respectively.

Leveraging its strong Brisbane presence, McCullough Robertson acts for domestic and international corporates as well as government departments; its team has seen an increase in building-related carbon emission and environmental sustainability matters. The contentious practice features a strong arbitration and mediation offering. Michael Rochester leads the five-partner team, which includes the recommended Matt Bradbury; the latter continues to advise NewCold on developing large cold storage facilities across Australia, requiring the coordination of design, civil and construction packages. Rochester assists Chinese Yuhu Group with its multibillion-dollar Jewel development on the Gold Coast, one of the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Ren Niemann assists AVID Property Group with a number of front- and back-end matters, and advises the Gold Coast City Council on three separate construction projects. Jason Munstermann joined from the now-defunct firm Henry Davis York.

Mills Oakley fields ‘fully committed team with real partner interest and involvement’, and partners ‘understand business drivers and pitch advice at an appropriate level, without sugar coating’. The ‘highly experienced’ Scott Laycock, who has ‘deep understanding of the Australian construction market’, continues to act for Coca-Cola Amatil on all property and construction aspects of the redevelopment of its largest Australian distribution centre. On the contentious side, Greg Richards represents Arup in proceedings brought by McConnell Dowell in relation to the design and construction of the Gold Coast Light Rail project. The ‘energetic, committed’ Scott Higgins ‘always ensures a commercially sensible outcome’; he assisted UGL in contractual claims in respect of TfNSW’s Digital Train Radio System project. Also recommended are Andrew Wallis, who ‘clearly communicates risks and gives recommendations’, and Rechelle Brost, who keeps advising Shayher Properties in relation to the Brisbane Quarter development. Special counsel Sean Henderson joined from Cooper Grace Ward.

Piper Alderman’s ‘excellent’ team is ‘hard to fault’ and ‘gives direct access to the most experienced partners, who provide immediate responses’. The broad practice has particular expertise acting for contractors, recently advising Watpac Construction on the demolition of Brisbane’s former Royal Children’s hospital and the construction of a public health facility, forming the first stage of the Herston Quarter redevelopment; the matter was led by the ‘commercially savvyTed Williams, whose ‘industry standing carries weight in negotiations with other parties’. The ‘very commercialTim Coleman assisted Ridley with the redevelopment of Sydney’s education department building into a 6-star hotel. Geoff Emmett, an ‘exceptional lawyer who always adds value’, assisted Coopers Brewery in relation to the design and construction of a facility, Coopers’ largest single facilities investment in its 155 years of operation. Also recommended are Megan Calder, who ‘understands the industry’ and ‘gets things done’ and Tim Lange, a ‘thought-leader who is focused on providing solutions’. The five-partner team, which is led by Emmett, has been bolstered by Robert Riddell and special counsel Daniel Fitzpatrick arriving from Dentons.

Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘bright and very hard-working team’ features a number of recommended individuals, among them ‘strong technical lawyer and good strategistCris Cureton, who has ‘an excellent capacity for seeing the big picture and is also exceptionally good with details’. The team advises a contractor on Perth’s Forrestfield airport rail link project, currently the largest state government project in Western Australia, and Hong Kong conglomerate Far East Consortium on its Ritz Carlton development in Perth. Subsea 7 instructed the team in relation to an onshore pipeline fabrication facility in Western Australia, the second of its kind in the world, launching pipeline bundles into the Exmouth Gulf in order to service offshore gas fields. Greg Steinepreis, Avendra Singh and Fabio Fior jointly lead the team. Also recommended are Brendan Reilly and Carl Black, who ‘quickly understands issues’ and is ‘proactive in dealing with difficult situations’.

Arnold Bloch Leibler retains its strong focus on acting for local (and, increasingly, international) commercial developers, capitalising on team head Kevin Frawley’s ‘extensive industry experience’; he is ‘respected by all builders because of his knowledge’. Representing clients in building and construction disputes forms another key part of the practice. Landmark retail, residential and commercial developments are the team’s hallmark; recent work includes advising Malaysian property developer OSK Property on the design and construction of the Melbourne Square development. 3L Alliance instructed the team in relation to Melbourne’s Queens Place development, comprising 1,800 apartments in twin 79-storey towers. Malaysian developer UEM Sunrise instructed the team in relation to the Mayfair luxury residential apartments, to be developed at the former Victoria Police headquarters.

Excellent’ boutique firm Blackstone Waterhouse Lawyers is rated for its ‘exceptionally good’ litigation offering, and has a strong focus on acting for private sector clients, namely developers and head contractors. Practice head Veno Panicker is supported by managing partner Danny Arraj as well as two special counsel. Toplace received assistance with project delivery agreement negotiations for the Macquarie Towers project, comprising a public car park and 725 residential apartments; on the contentious side, the team represented Australian Air Conditioning & Mechanical Services Group in a dispute with a head contractor and the Darwin Private Hospital.

HFW fields ‘outstanding lawyerNick Longley, whose ‘advice is always useful to overcome issues’, and Alex McKellar, who ‘helped resolve issues that had been hurdles for several years’. The former relocated from the firm’s Hong Kong office to boost the Melbourne offering. Infrastructure and offshore construction are two key areas of expertise, and the team has seen recent growth in hotel, residential and mixed-use developments, where it frequently acts for Singaporean and Chinese clients. On the contentious side, it represented AECOM Services in multi-party proceedings before the NSW Supreme Court, arising from the construction of Sydney’s Lane Cove tunnel. Non-contentious work included advising Indonesian state-owned PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur on the construction of a hospital in Sumatra. The team also includes the recommended Ian Gordon, who joined from Lander & Rogers; offshore construction expert Matthew Blycha; and disputes specialist Nick Watts.

The team at K&L Gates provides ‘excellent service’; its lawyers possess ‘detailed knowledge of complex legal issues’ and are ‘extremely diligent and committed’. Contentious work included successfully defending Seymour Whyte in a security-of-payment dispute in relation to the Woolgoolga-to-Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade project, with security-of-payment work being a particular area of expertise. The team also frequently represents clients in adjudication proceedings. It has been appointed to the NSW government panel, and regularly acts for ABB Australia, Downer EDI Services, and Honeywell. Practice head Sandra Steele spent significant time in-house and is valued for her ‘great judgment and experience’. The team has been bolstered by Simon Ashworth from Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Marjorie Miller, who joined as senior legal counsel from Grocon.

Thomson Geer's team is ‘incredibly knowledgeable, accessible’ and ‘always available’. In a recent contentious highlight, it represented Civil Mining & Construction in claims against Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET), and subsequently in counterclaims made by WICET against its client, both in relation to the development of Queensland’s Wiggins Island coal export terminal. On the advisory side, Chinese Wanda Group instructed the practice on the redevelopment of Sydney’s Goldfields House in Circular Quay into a luxury mixed-use complex with a 59-storey residential tower and a 28-storey hotel. CPB Contractors received advice in relation to the Capricornia Correctional Centre expansion project. ‘Excellent lawyer and construction litigatorAndrew Kelly leads the nine-partner team, and is rated as ‘highly experienced, creative and passionate about delivering sound outcomes’. Also recommended are Josh Marchant, Luke Aiken and Adam Wallwork; Wallwork, who joined from McCullough Robertson, ‘provides practical and no-nonsense advice’.

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