Firm Profile > Russell McVeagh > Auckland, New Zealand

Russell McVeagh
New Zealand

Banking and finance Tier 1

Russell McVeagh is a key player in debt capital markets, project finance, financial markets regulation, and corporate and acquisition finance. In the DCM market, the firm handled landmark transactions last year, including the largest single issue of bonds in New Zealand by a non-sovereign issuer, and the first green bond offered by a New Zealand corporate entity. Debt capital markets and financial regulation specialist Guy Lethbridge in Wellington leads the practice. In Auckland, Deemple Budhia is a leading light in DCM, securitisation, covered bonds, derivatives and regulatory matters. John Powell's skills include asset, development, corporate and acquisition finance. Newly promoted partner David Weavers  is a leading corporate finance specialist.

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“In my interactions with the partners I have been impressed with that they are prepared to challenge previous documents if they believe there is better way, for the client and bank, as well as highlight any deficiencies which could place the bank at risk.”

“John Powell’s intellect and calmness come through in discussions and negotiations. He provides insights by thinking about a situation in more than superficial way.”

“The legal advice provided by this team is superb. The team’s knowledge of the law is outstanding which gives us a huge sense of confidence each time we deal with them. In addition, they are forward thinking in their advice and able to think outside the square.”

“Deemple Budhia, Tom Hunt and Ian Beaumont are all incredibly personable which makes liaising with them easy. Advice received is always of a high standard and written clearly and concisely.”

Key clients

New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency Limited (LGFA)

Argosy Property Limited

Heartland Bank Limited

ASB Bank Limited

Tasman District Council (Council)

WEL Networks Limited

Westpac New Zealand Limited

Ports of Auckland Limited

The Riverside Company (global private equity sponsor)

Enviro NZ

Competition law Tier 1

Russell McVeagh has a highly respected multi-disciplinary practice that advises on many of New Zealand's most high-profile competition law matters. The firm's dedicated public, regulatory and competition practice handles structuring joint venture and exclusive supply arrangements. obtaining clearances and authorisations for mergers, responding to investigations and prosecutions by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC), working with economic advisers, and acting on appeals of NZCC decisions. In Auckland, practice head Sarah Keene and key partner Troy Pilkington frequently advise on Commerce Commission investigations and prosecutions, behavioural arrangements, merger clearances, Commerce Act litigation and other competition and consumer matters. Pilkington's track record includes several high-profile cartel and consumer law investigations and prosecutions, M&A transactions and joint ventures

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“The firm has an outstanding team with deep market knowledge and strong insights into regulatory approach and strategy.’

‘Sarah Keene, Troy Pilkington and Craig Shrive are each a pleasure to work with. They are bright and dynamic and have developed an effective team around them. Each works very collaboratively with us and is constructive in giving feedback and helping to shape our legal and regulatory strategy and approach.’

‘Their knowledge of the relevant legal areas is exceptional and their ability to apply it to particular business situations is excellent. In turn, they are open to feedback and working with us to settle on appropriate solution. It is an effective two-way working relationship.’

Key clients

Fonterra Cooperative Ltd

Spark New Zealand Ltd

Auckland International Airport Ltd

Woolworths Group Ltd

Lion Pty Ltd

BlueScope Steel

Trade Me Ltd

Westpac Banking Corporation

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

Meridian Energy

Corporate and M&A Tier 1

Russell McVeagh has 'a highly capable and personable team across all functions and disciplines, and it takes client relationships as very important'. The firm handles high-stakes corporate transactions for large domestic and cross-border clients, among which are Spark, Fonterra and Pacific Equity Partners. In Auckland, practice head David Hoare and key partners Dan Jones and Joe Windmeyer  (who is 'the one for difficult questions for leading corporates - he has done more takeovers than anyone') are standout practitioners. Up-and-coming partner Ben Paterson (who is 'an outstanding relationship manager and highly competent deal executor') is highly recommended. In Wellington, Mei Fern Johnson is a respected partner for M&A, restructuring and joint ventures.

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Key clients

Pacific Equity Partners

Manuka Health New Zealand

Fonterra Co-Operative Group Limited

Tilt Renewables


Bath Street Capital

Bounty Fresh Group

CHAMP Private Equity

Heartland Bank

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Guardians of New Zealand Super Fund

Spark New Zealand




Dispute resolution Tier 1

Russell McVeagh has 'the pre-eminent dispute resolution team in NZ', according to one client, who highlights its 'sharp, thoughtful and solution-oriented litigators'. The firm handles the full range of disputes work, including class actions, insolvency, construction and M&A disputes. In Auckland, national practice group chair Sarah Armstrong and her deputy Marika Eastwick-Field are the key partners. Last year, Armstrong's work included high-profile M&A litigation, four significant regulatory investitations and the leading case on the financial services exemption under the GST Act. In Auckland, Malcolm Crotty's broad practice includes commercial, employment and construction litigation, and Polly Pope handles high-profile judicial reviews and projects disputes. Up-and-coming partner Chris Curran in Wellington is recommended for  class actions, complex commercial and ICT disputes, and judicial reviews.

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‘They are always up-to-date and ready to respond, and they provide exceptional client service and are enjoyable to work with.’

‘Sarah Armstrong is approachable, strategic and quick to act. Newly promoted partner Will Irving is technically excellent.’

‘They are wonderful people to work with. The likeability quotient is off the charts. This is so important – to like the people you work with day in, day out.’

‘Russell McVeagh is a market leader in focusing on understanding our business so that they can deliver timely, reliable advice.’

‘Polly Pope stands out in her ability to deliver technically accurate, succinct and strategically thoughtful advice to urgent timeframes.’

‘It has a responsive team that provides timely and clear advice. The team was mindful of costs and delegated to the appropriate staff level, and it gave a range of options available to achieve defined goals. It showed effective management of expert evidence and, during mediation, clearly set out the position and stood firm to achieve a good result.’

‘Polly Pope and Michelle Mau were excellent to deal with. They ensured we were fully apprised of the process and timeframes. They were accessible and responsive and a pleasure to work with.’

‘An unwavering client-first approach makes this practice unique. Russell McVeagh was outstanding in providing us with on-point, effective and clear advice. The firm is well resourced and the experience of their lawyers ensures your issue is given a comprehensive and efficient review.’

‘Polly Pope is an outstanding member of the Russell McVeagh partnership. She has unquestionable integrity, is totally approachable, and has the rare talent of being able to explain complex legal issues in a clear and concise manner. She is pragmatic, commercially astute and has a formidable knowledge of local and international dispute resolution practices.’

Key clients


Milk New Zealand (Shanghai) Co Limited

Credit Suisse

Rayonier Inc


Trade Me Group


Bath Street Capital


Provident Insurance

Restructuring and insolvency Tier 1

Russell McVeagh is 'a large firm that  provides the ability to tap into partners with knowledge of specific legal areas'. Its multi-disciplinary practice handles the full range of matters including formal domestic and cross-border insolvency processes, the enforcement of secured and unsecured creditor rights, corporate and debt restructuring and workouts, and secondary debt trading and investment. 'Superb lawyer' Matthew Kersey is the lead partner in Auckland. Polly Pope is recommended by peers and clients alike for her work in contentious insolvency and restructuring, as well as her complementary expertise in construction, infrastructure, financial and regulatory disputes. Kersey and Pope acted for the voluntary administrators of insurer CBL. Partner John Powell is recommended for his work on debt restructuring, workouts and formal insolvency.

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“Russell McVeagh has a strong restructuring and insolvency team with talented and hardworking lawyers. They also bring in very good subject matter experts to assist in engagements when required.”

“Partner Matt Kersey is an excellent operator and one of New Zealand’s very best restructuring and insolvency lawyers. Having worked on some of the largest and most complex restructuring deals in the market, he has unparalleled technical knowledge of the law and is a very strong litigator.”

“Matt Kersey has significantly advanced the profession through his role as a Board Member of RITANZ and Chair of the RITANZ Regulatory Affairs Committee.”

Key clients




ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

Hogan Lovells

Heartland Bank

Bath Street Capital

Duncan Brand

Complectus Limited

Downtown House (No 2) Limited

NZ Project 29 Limited

Tax Tier 1

Russell McVeagh provides tax advice on  financing and capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, business establishment and reorganisations, investment products, PPPs, employee remuneration packages, customs and excise, transfer pricing, and tax investigations and disputes. Recent contentious matters include disputes involving excise, tax avoidance, depreciation and transfer pricing before the Customs Appeal Authority, High Court and Court of Appeal. The firm also advised Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the sale of its New Zealand life insurance business. Brendan Brown leads the practice from Wellington and specialises in corporate and international taxation, including transfer pricing matters and tax disputes. Fred Ward in Auckland is an experienced tax specialist who focuses predominantly on banking transactions and tax disputes.

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“The firm is very responsive and has strong knowledge of banking structures and programmes.”

“Fred Ward is strong on financial arrangement rules and banking, and provides excellent service.”

Key clients

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

Bank of New Zealand

ASB Bank Limited/Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Westpac New Zealand Limited

New Zealand Post/Kiwibank Limited

Spark New Zealand Limited

Origin Energy

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited

Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation

Vector Limited

TMT Tier 1

Russell McVeagh has a team of lawyers who specialise in many aspects of the TMT sector, including technology specialist Liz Blythe and Joe Edwards, who leads the marketing, media and IP practice. Alongside them in Auckland, the firm has experts in fintech, insurtech, IT disputes and sector-specific M&A. National ICT group chair Mei Fern Johnson sits in Wellington and has almost 20 years' experience in advising on ICT projects. She handles high-value IT and new technology projects in the private and public sectors, including complex matters. Blythe focuses predominantly on the procurement, supply, development, outsourcing and commercialisation of technology.

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“I have confidence in the people that I have worked with and like how they work with our team. Mei Fern Johnson has been excellent to deal with in terms of the quality of work and responsiveness to our needs.”

“The key strength for us is Joe Edwards. He knows our business so well and is a specialist in his field. Consumer law issues in telecommunications is a very specialist area and I don’t know that other firms have the expertise that he does.”

“We really value Joe Edwards due to his expertise in this area, his knowledge of the Commerce Commission and his availability. He is always available for us at short notice and can turn around work urgently.”

“An all-rounded A-team that does not focus solely on the academic application of the law but is able to understand the technical solutions to ensure there are able to assist the business get deals across the line.”

“They are not afraid to put themselves on the line – the area that this team operates in is often very risky and this team has always worked hard to be as pragmatic and commercial as they possibly can. They are 100% solution-orientated and are not afraid to push the boundaries of the law.”

“Definitely not a traditional private practice law firm and the reason why they are able to do so is because they are incredible strong in the law and therefore able to navigate solutions to provide solutions that matches the risk appetite of the organisation. They are able to write their opinions in a way that is easily palatable by the executive team who are time poor.”

“I would describe them as an extension of our in-house legal team and would 100% recommend their expertise in this area.”

“Liz Blythe is a superstar in the legal technology field – NZ is lucky to have such an amazing lawyer. She is a super-smart, creative, easy to work with and a trusted legal advisor!”

“The team brings a deep understanding of technology and IP to New Zealand. The team has unrivalled expertise in infrastructure-as-a-service.”

“Liz Blythe leads the team and delivers exceptional and practical legal advice. Her knowledge of the industry and the major players has proven invaluable to a number of large IT projects.”

“The Russell McVeagh TMT practice has a unique understanding of modern app-based marketplaces which allows them to provide pragmatic and commercially savvy advice that takes into account the complex environment in which our business works.”

“Liz Blyth has taken a level of ownership and care in the output of complex projects that we have undertaken that ensures their success.”

“His breadth of expertise across TMT issues allows Joe Edwards to expertly stay one step ahead of issues that may arise.”

Key clients

Accident Compensation Corporation


Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment

Ministry of Education

Stuff Limited

New Zealand Police

Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force

Spark New Zealand

Trustpower Limited


Insurance Tier 2

Russell McVeagh's insurance group is a multi-disciplinary team consisting of corporate, finance, litigation, regulatory and competition experts. The firm was recently appointed to the legal panel of the Earthquake Commission, New Zealand's statutory natural disaster insurer, to handle strategic test cases arising from the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010. Clients praise its 'great reputation for technical excellence as a firm'. It handles large and complex claims for corporate clients, including multimillion-dollar material damage claims arising from the recent Kaikoura earthquakes, as well as advising on policy matters. Commercial litigator Marika Eastwick-Field in Auckland financial regulation specialist Tom Hunt in Wellington are the lead partners.


“The firm has some individuals who stand in their area of expertise and the firm exhibits a high level of general competence.”

Key clients

Earthquake Commission

Intellectual property Tier 2

Russell McVeagh in Auckland climbs the ranking for its growing presence in contentious and transactional IP matters for major local and international corporates and organisations in the telecommunications, banking, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, FMCG, media, energy and sporting industries. The firm advised numerous international social media providers on the publication of footage following the Christchurch terror attacks in 2019. Litigator Joe Edwards leads the marketing law, media and IP practice and has a particular focus on IP and IT disputes, regulatory investigations and prosecutions, privacy law and data protection. Newly promoted IP and IT partner Liz Blythe handles complex technology transactions, including the procurement, supply, development, manufacturing, outsourcing and commercialisation of technology and e-commerce arrangements.

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“The team is extremely helpful and reliable, and it provides advice in a timely way despite often challenging deadlines.”

“Joe Edwards is great to deal with and extremely professional. He provides very clear legal advice and is always available to discuss these in greater detail if needed.”

Key clients

Samsung Electronics New Zealand

Vector Limited

Kiwi Property Holdings Limited



Manuka Health New Zealand Limited

Google New Zealand Limited

Credit Corp Financial Solutions Pty Ltd



Investment funds Tier 2

The funds management, Kiwisaver and superannuation practice at Russell McVeagh in Auckland works with fund managers, trustees, supervisors, financial advisers, custodians, investors and employers to navigate the changing regulatory environment, notably the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act. It handles the establishment, operation, restructuring and winding up of funds and investment schemes, as well as assisting with the development and tax-efficient design of investment schemes. The firm has been involved with KiwiSaver since its inception, and is well versed in other superannuation schemes. Dan Jones  leads the practice and he is known for advising fund managers, banks and trustees on the regulatory obligations.

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‘Russell McVeagh does not have a dedicated practice to financial services, but the quality of its personnel in this area is what sets it apart from many of its peers. In addition, it is a full-service firm, which is of significant benefit as we find that many other issues regularly arise in the financial services area.’

‘Russell McVeagh has a reputation in New Zealand for being one of the premier law firms and their staff have the necessary expertise and ability to make dealings with them beneficial and worthwhile. We appreciate their commerciality in their interactions with us and their willingness to go the extra mile to help us and support us.’

‘Dan Jones [is] very competent and knowledgeable in the financial services industry, which makes a big difference to us. We value [his] connections within that industry. The individuals are all easy to approach and provide timely advice and recommendations.’

Key clients

ASB Bank Limited

Bank of New Zealand

Citibank N.A.

Fidelity Life


Guardians of NZ Superannuation

JP Morgan

Mint Asset Management

NZ Funds Management

NZ Banking Association

Oyster Management Limited

Pathfinder Asset Management Ltd

Westpac New Zealand Limited

Labour and employment Tier 2

In Russell McVeagh's Auckland office,  Kylie Dunn leads a small but impressive employment practice that handles the full range of employment matters, with particular focus on more complex issues and challenging issues. Its work encompasses assistance with strategy, union-related matters, the exit of senior executives, negotiations with regulators, and advocacy at all levels of the court system. Of particular note is its work in collective bargaining, industrial action and disputes concerning the interpretation of collective agreements. It also has a strong health and safety practice. Among Dunn's clients are large corporates such as IBM New Zealand, Auckland International Airport and SKYCITY Entertainment Group.

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“The firm provides practical advice grounded in case law and realistic risk assessments, rather than risk-averse prima facie directives.”

“Kylie Dunn is a strong practitioner and partner. She provides our company with training for our teams, practical updates as legislation changes and evolves and is both extremely responsive as well as practical with her advice.”

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Evolve Education Group Limited

IBM New Zealand Limited

Norske Skog Tasman Limited

Sanford Limited

SKYCITY Entertainment Group

Smiths City Group Limited

T&G Global Limited

Woolworths Limited (General Distributors Ltd; Progressive Enterprises Ltd)

Visionstream NZ Limited

Projects and resources management (including environment) Tier 2

Russell McVeagh has a prominent role in the energy sector, acting on upstream and downstream oil and gas, renewable energy projects and mining projects, including  environmental consenting and planning aspects. National environment, planning and natural resources practice group chair Daniel Minhinnick in Auckland and energy practice group chair Mei Fern Johnson in Wellington are the lead partners. In Auckland, leading light Allison Arthur-Young handles all aspects of resource management and local government law, with a particular focus on development and large-scale infrastructure projects, along with district and regional planning, and policy matters. Senior associate Simon Pilkinton  is a rising star known for 'good technical knowledge and accurate advice'. Bronwyn Carruthers is now a barrister at Shortland Chambers.

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“Simon Pilkinton is personable and responsive. He has provided useful and focussed advice on a technical matter regarding public works.”

“Partner Daniel Minhinnick and senior associate Kristen Gunnell are strong performers in the RMA area. Allison Arthur-Young is particularly good in the local government area and Tim Clarke has very strong connections with Government. Together they make a very good all round team which is very responsive to our requirements.”

Key clients

Wellington Water Limited

Tasman District Council

WEL Networks Limited

Watercare Services Ltd

Bunnings Limited

Stevenson Group (Drury South Limited)

Auckland International Airport Limited

New Zealand Government

Panuku Development Auckland Limited

Scentre (New Zealand) Limited

KiwiRail Holdings Limited

Real estate and construction Tier 2

At Russell McVeagh 'the team is highly responsive and provides an excellent due diligence service when examining and preparing legal documentation'. One client praises the firm's 'clear advice, timely responses and good knowledge of the construction industry'. The firm's front-end real estate practice is frequently involved in high-value transactions, including instructed in relation to high-profile development projects and capital markets transactions. Its construction practice acts for significant clients such as Precinct Properties and Vector. The Auckland office has four strong partners focused on real estate matters - chair of the property and construction group Ed Crook, deputy chair David Butler, real estate development projects and capital markets specialist Steve Rendall, and Property Council of New Zealand's National Council member   Anna Crosbie. It also has a highly skilled construction litigation partner in Polly Pope.


“Anna Crosbie is always very considered and contemplates risks, then provides solutions to them.”

“Dave Butler and his team are fantastic to deal with. They are approachable, knowledgeable and give down to earth advice that is on point. We have done several large projects with the team and we know that they will always deliver good advice and help us to work with other partners in the firm to fill any gaps. We would all recommend them to anyone who needs a good law firm and they are good value for money.”

“Dave Butler is a really good team player and is prepared to listen to us and work with us.”

“The Russell McVeagh team has knowledgeable experts in their field. This, coupled with the depth of their experience, enables them to give first-class practical legal advice. The team has been advising us for a number of years and the knowledge of our business, and the drafting of legal advice with that in mind, is what differentiates them from other firms.”

“Anna Crosbie is a pleasure to work with. Her advice is always spot on and she has a real interest in her clients and understanding the context in which advice is being sought. As well as being extremely knowledgeable, Anna is approachable, passionate about what she does and a real team player.”

“David Butler is client-focused and committed to delivering a high-quality advice. He is flexible in his thinking and offers solution-focused advice.”

“Senior associate Caleb Hensman drives transactions forward and is a reliable point of contact.”

“The team is knowledgeable and very good to work with. It provides clear and unequivocal advice which assists us in making reasoned commercial decisions.”

“The team is responsive and cost-effective.”

“I have worked with the Russell McVeagh property team on the acquisition of a strategic property asset with a number of complexities. Their ability to quickly deal with numerous issues was very valuable and kept the project on track.”

“Anna Crosbie gives commercially focussed advice and works well under pressure. Her technical skills are also excellent and you know that your property matters are in safe hands.”

“The firm has a very strong team for real estate law.”

“The lawyers we deal with are very responsive to needs, in particular Steve Rendall and Natalie Sundstrom.”

“This team has fantastic depth across a broad range of real estate areas. They are highly responsive, efficient and commercial.”

“Dave Butler is an outstanding lawyer and negotiator – the kind of guy you want to have on your side of the table. His confident, measured and pragmatic approach enables speedy resolution of roadblocks.”

“A highly knowledgable and commercial team that is are solutions-based and pragmatic. They provide clear and concise advice, with a clear recommendation for a way forward. They provide their opinions on the best commercial decisions when navigating through situations, with advice based on their knowledge of our business and ownership structure.”

“I like that the team provides their opinions – their advice has a clear direction, with an outline of the risks associated with a path and the rationale around this being the best way forward. Both Steve Rendall and Ed Smithies are great communicators. I always feel I clearly understand the advice being given and potential ramifications of the decisions made.”

“From a litigation perspective, Will Irving is also very good at outlining potential risks whilst providing a way forward to achieve our desired outcome. All members of the firm are responsive and a pleasure to deal with.”

Key clients

Precinct Properties New Zealand Limited (Precinct)

Goodman Property Trust

PSPIB/CPPIB Waiheke Inc. (the NZ PSP/CPP fund)

Oyster Property Group Limited


Kiwi Property Holdings Limited

Drury South Limited

Scentre Group

Auckland International Airport Limited

Vector Limited

SC Capital Pte Limited

Transport (rail, road, air and sea) Tier 2

Russell McVeagh has a broad transport practice, covering airport and port operators, rail and road transport. The firm counts Ports of Auckland, Auckland International Airport and KiwiRail among its clients. Chair of the firm's environment, planning and natural resources group Daniel Minhinnick in Auckland and Wellington-based Mei Fern Johnson lead the practice. The firm has a long track record of acting for leading national and international airlines, as well as domestic airports; assisting port operators and maritime clients with projects and commercial matters; and advising on the development of major road and rail projects across New Zealand.

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Panuku Development Auckland Limited

Infratil Limited


NZ Airports Association

Ports of Auckland Limited

Drury South Limited

NZ Transport Agency

Fullers Limited

Bus and Coach Association

Mana Coach Services

Howick and Eastern Coach Services

Queenstown Airport Limited

Photo Name Position Profile
 Allison Arthur-Young photo Allison Arthur-Young Partner
 Liz Blythe photo Liz Blythe Partner
 Brendan Brown photo Brendan Brown Partner
 Deemple Budhia photo Deemple Budhia Partner
 David Butler photo David Butler Partner
 Ed Crook photo Ed Crook Partner
 Anna Crosbie photo Anna Crosbie Partner
 Malcolm Crotty photo Malcolm Crotty Partner
 Chris Curran photo Chris Curran Partner
 Kylie Dunn photo Kylie Dunn Partner
 Marika Eastwick-Field photo Marika Eastwick-Field Partner
 Joe Edwards photo Joe Edwards Partner
 David Hoare photo David Hoare Partner
 Mei Fern Johnson photo Mei Fern Johnson Partner
 Dan Jones photo Dan Jones Partner
 Sarah Keene photo Sarah Keene Partner
 Matthew Kersey photo Matthew Kersey Partner
 Guy Lethbridge photo Guy Lethbridge Partner
 Ben Paterson  photo Ben Paterson Partner
 Troy Pilkington photo Troy Pilkington Partner
 Simon Pilkinton  photo Simon Pilkinton Senior Associate
 Polly Pope photo Polly Pope Partner
 John Powell photo John Powell Partner
 Fred Ward photo Fred Ward Partner
 David Weavers photo David Weavers Partner
 Joe Windmeyer photo Joe Windmeyer Partner