South Australia’s construction lawyers have seen mixed pockets of activity in recent times. Front end construction matters have generally been quiet with the exception of some government related infrastructure work and while activity generally in contentious matters has been higher, most saw that the smaller nature of these matters and a trend towards earlier resolution resulted in an overall decrease in work.
Perhaps it’s these turbulent times that has led to a level of personnel movement that has altered our 2014 rankings from those of previous years. Lynch Meyer suffered two senior departures in the form of Michael Battye (to QED Legal) and Nick Anderson (to O’Loughins Lawyers), Fenwick Elliott Grace lost founding Partner Robert Fenwick Elliott (to the Bar) and veteran Ian Nosworthy shut the doors in his own practice when he joined Cowell Clarke as a Consultant.
Cosoff Cudmore Knox’s strength in litigious matters generally flowed through to the area of construction with the firm and Partner Karina Cosoff noted as being “effective and practical” in matters.
Crawford Legal’s Victor Daminato was the most prominently mentioned individual during our research. Daminato’s ability to span both contentious and non-contentious matters was praised as was the fact that “there’s no delegating to junior lawyers there, Victor is very hands on in everything”.
Sean Ryan and his team of experienced operators at FBR Legal were viewed as “the best of the boutiques” and praised for their work on small to mid-sized construction disputes.
Fenwick Elliott Grace may have lost its figurehead Partner Robert Fenwick Elliott to the bar yet the firm continues to operate on a high level, particularly in relation to non-contentious matters where Jeanie Elliott was seen as “commercial” and extremely good”. Tom Grace’s efforts in attempting to rebuild the firm’s litigation capabilities were also noted.
Despite the departure of senior personnel within its construction practice Lynch Meyer’s construction team continue to feature prominently. Partner Michael Hutton in particular was well regarded for his work on residential construction matters with one peer noting “he’s the best around at that type of work”. Partner Cathy Mayfield narrowly missed out on making our leading lawyer rankings.
O’Loughlins Lawyers efforts in entering the construction market via the recruitment of Special Counsel Nick Anderson were beginning to gain a foothold.
The litigation skills of Andrew Robertson at Piper Alderman are “greatly respected” according to one peer and the firm was also noted for its work on property disputes.
Market newcomer QED Legal, operated by former Lynch Meyer Partner Michael Battye presents as the most significant market development. One peer noted that QED “has real potential” and another praised Battye’s “sharp mind” and the fact that he is “very commercial and outcome focused”.
Thomsons Lawyers continue to offered a respected front and back end offering via the pairing of Geoff Brennan (back-end) and Tony Saint (front-end).