Editorial Overview & Commentary
Adrian Galasso SC stood out as the “pick of the planning silks” and attracted praise for both his knowledge of the area and his “ability to turn on the fire when appropriate”. The widely respected Chris McEwen SC was noted as being effective across a broad spectrum of matters and “when you give him a brief you know that he’s read it and is completely across it”.
On environment matters at a Senior Counsel level number of firms look to be increasingly moving away from picking a specialist planning and environment silk and instead looking to utilise some of the leading commercial Senior Counsel. In this regard the likes of Richard Lancaster SC, Noel Hutley SC and Bret Walker SC were viewed as practitioners who most effectively operated within the environment area.
Amongst Junior Counsel although still relatively new at the bar, Mike Staunton “has a unique understanding of the commercial and property aspects of matters” and this approach combined with the fact that “he’s exceedingly good value” sees Staunton as our Market Leader. Heather Irish was praised for her “attention to detail”. Nigel Bowen Chambers’ John Maston’s work on compulsory aquisition and contamination matters was regularly noted and Tom Howard’s strong reputation in environmental prosecution matters is also now viewed as extending to planning matters with on practitioner praising Howard’s “great legal mind”.
Former Allens Partner Michael Astill moved to the Bar in 2013 and is already drawing praise for both his skill and value.
On the pricing front the NSW planning and environment bar continues to display good value when compared to the skills on offer and the pricing levels in other states. Senior Counsel struggled to exceed daily rates of $7,500 with most practitioners feeling a rate of closer to $6,000 per day as reasonable while quality Junior Counsel were able to be retained for between $3,000 to $3,500 per day. Such is the competition at the junior end of the bar that daily rates of $2,000 are not unheard of.
Despite this low daily rate we did receive comment that on occasion care needed to be taken with the costs associated with briefing certain individuals due to a somewhat liberal application of time recording.