Australia has proved its resilience to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges the country has faced through the global crisis, Australia’s economy has continued to stay strong by making swift recovery. Tough Covid rules including closed borders affected vital industries – aviation and tourism. However, most other industries bounced back quickly, and Australia’s economy in 2022 is projected to outperform with its 6.6 percent growth in the GDP in comparison to pre-pandemic economy in 2019. This year’s the Legal 500 GC Powerlist: Australia 2022 highlights, among other myriad responsibilities of a leading in-house lawyer, the role of general counsel as strategic business partners navigating the pandemic as well as the post-pandemic world. General counsel played a central role in conveying stability and resilience to their organisations when there is full of uncertainty in the workplace as well as outside of work.
Technology adoption has been critical to support remote and hybrid working, providing in-house legal teams greater efficiencies in delivery of advice and benefits for flexibility when working. Despite the hardships caused by the global crisis, in-house lawyers in Australia moved out of their comfort zone while focusing on adopting cutting-edge technologies into their practice. By utilising legal tech, in-house lawyers increased efficiency in delivery of administrative tasks, focusing on more strategic and problem-solving tasks. The openness and willingness to embrace technology with an agile attitude is key to move forward in this contemporary legal market.
The in-house lawyers contained within these pages have successfully utilised their legal skills to become true business partners of their respective organisations are without question among the very best in the
wider region. I would like to extend the warmest thanks to every single general counsel who participated in this edition of the GC Powerlist: Australia 2022. This edition identifies the most impressive counsel who have utilised their legal knowledge strategically to provide business insight in these challenging times for their company’s success. I am extremely pleased to present the list of the most agile, innovative, and exceptional in-house lawyers in Australia.
GC Powerlist Series
As we emerge from the global pandemic we will look back and reconcile this period of tremendous importance to the way we all do business. Businesses have learned how to operate under the most challenging of circumstances, forced into drastically flexing and adapting to an ever-changing environment simply to continue operating. The focus on our people – our greatest asset – has intensified as we recruit and retain staff and we have sharpened our awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
Overwhelmingly, this period has placed focus on how we do business. How we treat our environment, the communities we operate in, how we support our people and how we understand and pre-empt our client needs. As Powerlisters, you play a critical role in helping steer your company’s strategic direction, particularly in challenging times. We are all aligned to the fact that managing climate change will be a critical issue for the Australian economy. Corporations will come under increasing scrutiny on how they serve society and that will impact their future performance. As legal advisors and GC’s together we will be looking to advise clients, boards and senior executives with strategic and practical legal advice. We are intending to intensify our understanding of all things climate change and ESG including carbon markets transactions, decarbonisation and energy transition, and litigation, risk and opportunities around climate.
The Legal 500 GC Powerlist is one of the few industry directories that recognises the talent of Australia’s corporate counsel as they navigate industry changes. As a proud sponsor of the 2022 GC Powerlist, Gilbert + Tobin is pleased to play a small part in highlighting the critical role in-house counsel play in the achievements of their organisations. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our clients as we both seek to deliver greater value to the business community. Congratulations to those ranked in this year’s The Legal 500 GC Powerlist Australia for 2022. Despite the disruptive environment we are operating in, lawyers continue to play a critical role in navigating change.
About Gilbert + Tobin
Gilbert + Tobin is an Australian law firm with over 90 partners and offices across all major Australian cities. It was founded in 1988 by Danny Gilbert and Tony Tobin as a small team of lawyers focused on providing excellent legal advice on high-profile, complex matters.
We are recognised as a leading Australian law firm, advising clients on their most significant corporate transactions, regulatory matters and disputes. We provide commercial and innovative legal solutions for ASX 100 leading companies, major infrastructure and services providers as well as government and public authorities across Australia and around the world.
Gilbert + Tobin is committed to outstanding corporate citizenship. To us, that means minimising the negative impacts of our business on society and the environment. Through our dedicated pro bono and corporate social responsibility practices we assist marginalised and disadvantaged people and the organisations that support them, with priority given to Indigenous people, refugees and asylum seekers, people with disability and human rights matters. Our Corporate Social Responsibility program specifically focuses on three streams – community, reconciliation and the environment. Our diversity and inclusion policies are leading-edge, and we also have one of the highest proportion of women partners among major Australian law firms.
We have a proud community-conscious track record on environmental issues. We were the first Australian law firm certified by Climate Active, as a carbon neutral service. We are now one of only two law firms with this certification and are also certified as a carbon neutral organisation. G+T is Australia’s first 100% renewable law firm, committed to sourcing all tenancy electricity needs from renewable sources from FY2020 onwards.
The increased scrutiny on Australian businesses is throwing more challenges at general counsel who are already operating across an ever broadening spectrum of business issues. The role is not just about delivering legal advice. You are also responsible for compliance, business risk, governance, operations and regulatory issues; bringing legal knowledge and business acumen to help businesses navigate through future risks and opportunities. Not to mention the continued pressure to always do more with less.
The Legal 500 GC Powerlist is one of the few industry directories that recognises the talent of Australia’s corporate counsel. As a sponsor, we are proud to play a small part in highlighting the critical role in-house counsel play in Australia’s legal landscape.
Congratulations to all those ranked this year from all of us at Johnson Winter Slattery.
Johnson Winter Slattery is a corporate law firm like no other. Started by three lawyers who wanted to do things differently, we’ve grown to become one of Australia’s leading independent firms. We now have more than 70 partners across offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Our lawyers are recognised across all areas of corporate law. We are known for our commerciality, providing practical legal advice that is always focused on outcomes. But most importantly, we pride ourselves on being, quite simply, better to work with.
McCullough Robertson wholeheartedly congratulates all individuals on being named in the GC Powerlist Australia for 2022.
This accolade reflects the instrumental role each of you play in your organisation, particularly in a time of endless disruption – both internally and in the external business landscape.
The role and skillset of general counsel is evolving with increasing responsibility to be part of strategic business considerations, drive commercial outcomes and realise efficiencies while also sustainably leading teams to high performance and wellbeing in a new hybrid world.
At McCullough Robertson, unlocking success for clients is what drives us.
We use deep industry knowledge and foresight, combined with considerable technical expertise and in-house experience, to provide the best possible outcome for our clients. After 95 years as an independent Australian-grown law firm, we are still growing and evolving as we continue to empower our clients, which extends beyond our expertise in law because we know there is more to success and life than a legal outcome.
Again, congratulations to all individuals listed in the GC Powerlist. It is a great accomplishment and you should be extremely proud of your efforts. We look forward to watching you continue to flourish and inspire in your vitally important role.
The Legal 500 travelled to Sydney to launch the 2022 edition of the GC Powerlist: Australia. Research editor Chris Vlachopoulos and events co-ordinator David Freeman joined the best of Australia’s in-house counsel to honour those lucky enough to count themselves among the 2022 list, one of our most impressive editions yet. The event took place in Sydney’s beautiful Kimpton Margot, where delegates heard inspirational opening speeches from Sharon Cook, Group Executive, Legal and Commercial Services at National Australia Bank, and Carmel Mulhern, Group General Counsel and Group Executive at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, before enjoying a champagne reception and networking with their contemporaries.
A massive thank you to long-term Legal 500 partners McCullough Robertson, Gilbert + Tobin and Johnson Winter & Slattery for helping to make this event possible, and to Sharon Cook and Carmel Mulhern for their speeches at the event. We look forward to next year!