This section provides additional information in relation to firm and individuals capabilities as well as any general market trends and influences relating to the legal services aspect of the New South wales construction market. It is compiled on the back of feedback from both solicitors practising within these areas and client referees.
Allens Arthur Robinson continued position within the upper levels of the NSW construction market looks somewhat perilous. Subsequent to our research being completed we were informed that senior partner John Cooper had resigned from the firm and reportedly with a view to joining Jones Day and throughout our research competitors continually questioned the “committment” of international firms to the area of construction. For now the firm’s NSW construction practice is placed in the hands of Leighton O’Brien “an outstanding” practitioner in the view of one client and an individual regarded equally well for his capability on both front and back end matters.
Ashurst are the quiet achiever in the NSW construction market with the firm receiving widespread yet subdued praise. Chris Mitchell’s work on matters with a real estate and development compnonent was noted while Kevin Arkwright is seen as a “brilliant draftsman” and “technically brilliant”. Chris Davidson’s work on contentious matters was “first class”. Partner Bill Smith left the firm in late 2011 to join the Dubai office of Pinsent Masons.
Baker & McKenzie’s NSW construction practice under the stewardship of widely respected veteran Geoff Wood continues to develop its market position. Wood was viewed as “always great to deal with” and an “ultimate professional”. In a blow to the firm Andrew Chew, who joined the firm alongside Geoff Wood from Mallesons Stephen Jaques, left the firm in late 2011.
Clayton Utz remains dominant in both the front and back end aspects of the NSW construction market. Practice leader Doug Jones, although “off conquering the world” according to one peer attracted no shortage of praise being seen as “just in another stratosphere” and a “brilliant strategist”. The experienced John Shirbin’s work on front end matters was praised while Frank Bannon is was seen as “an excellent practitioner with a different but effective style”.
Colin Biggers & Paisley expertise across the construction litigation and insurance space was seen as providing a constant challenge to the larger national firms. Geoff Standen is a “bloody good lawyer” while Avendra Singh “knows his stuff”.
The work of Corrs Chambers Westgarth on behalf of contractor clients including Downer and Leighton on both front and back end matters was noted. Robert Regan’s “take no prisoners” style of litigation gained favour as did the “tireless worker” Andrew Chew.
Gadens Lawyers‘ Scott Laycock was noted by one peer as “covering the mid-market” on contentious construction matters. Former Herbert Geer construction partner Doron Rivlin joined the firm on February 2012.
Henry Davis York’s Michael Bampton “runs a good front end practice” according to one peer.
Herbert Smith Freehills David Templeman was viewed as a “great guy who deals with financing issues better than anyone” and a “PPP master” while fellow Partner Peter Paradise also earned praise in relation to the “finance and structuring” elements of major projects work.
King & Wood Mallesons contentious construction practice provides the sternest of challenges to Clayton Utz’s long held dominance of the area. Peter Pether is “the mpst strategic construction litigator in the market” and he is ably complimented by the “aggressive” and “extremely persistent” style of Julie Wright. Adam Wallwork’s presence within the area of alliances and Mark Upfold’s skills on financing issues were also highlighted
Maddocks Lawyers have positioned the firm’s NSW construction team as the “one to watch”. The significant presence of Mal Fielding seen by one client as “smart, effective and affordable” is now complemented by the growing reputation of Andrew Chapman. Former Clayton Utz Senior Associate Matthew Stulic joined the firm in June 2012.
At Minter Ellison the “three sisters” (as described by one peer) of Pam Jack, Liz McKechnie and Nicole form one of the NSW market’s most “well rounded” construction practice across both front and back end matters. Veteran litigator Pam Jack was noted as being “always present and always a competitors”.
The Norton Rose contractor focused practice continues to impress clients and peers. Rob Buchanan is “beginning to really find his feet” and was well regarded for his “loyal contractor client base” while Mark Waddell was viewed as “bright, hardworking and responsive”.