May 31, 2024
Doyle's Guide

Editorial Commentary – Planning & Environment, South Australia, 2012

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 South Australian planning and environment market. It is compiled on the back of feedback from both solicitors practising within these areas and client referees.


Market Overview

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the South Australian planning and environment legal services market in recent times has been two significant partnership splits that have increased competition amongst those firms focused on local government work. At Wallmans local government Partners Michael Kelledy and Natasha Jones departed in July to establish Kelledy Jones and, prior to this, the departure of James Hilditch from Griffin Hilditch gave rise to Hilditch Lawyers.

Generally activity remained subdued, particularly on the planning front.  Activity within the environment space was stronger with almost all practitioners noting an increase in site contamination and enforcement related work.

(Firms Listed in Alphabetical Order)

Specialist planning and environment firm Botten Levinson were viewed as “the developer’s choice” on planning matters.   Gaining notoriety equally for the quality of work than their unique status

Cowell Clarke make an entry into our rankings in anticipation of the November 5, 2012 arrival of Judith Bradsen from Minter Ellison.

The Finlaysons planning and environment practice, previously the state’s leader on environment matters, has perhaps dropped back to the pack after the departure of Partner Suzanne Dickey (in-house to LMS Energy).  For now the practice remains in the more than capable hands of former engineer and now Senior Associate Kyra Reznikov.  Seen by one peer as “going places”, Reznikov is currently seconded to Santos on a three day per week basis.

Griffins Lawyers reputation for hotly contested planning appeal matters remains with veteran John McElhinney seen as “a worthy opponent”.

James Hilditch, of market newcomer Hilditch Lawyers, although seen as “less prominent” since establishing his own firm was noted as “still very highly regarded by his clients”.

While it would be a stretch to say that Kelledy Jones is a “planning and environment” firm the experience and reputation of Partners Michale Kelledy and Natasha Jones within local government circles sees the firm as a market participant, particularly on those with an administrative law component.

Mellor Olsson continues to emerge as a force with young Partner Anthony Kelly’s efforts in particular, well regarded.

Minter Ellison’s positioning within the South Australian planning environment looks set to fall post the departure of practice stalwart Judith Bradsen.  Nonetheless the firm’s strong property, construction and resources practices positioning it well to rebound depending upon Bradsen’s replacement.

Sitting pretty with the “lion’s share” of South Australia’s local government work Norman Waterhouse and in particular Gavin Leydon dominate the planning market.   The “hard but fair” Leydon’s work on planning matters was universally recognised.  The departure of Partner Martha Savva to the Ombudsman office was seen as weakening the firm’s credential son climate change and environment matters.

Thomsons Lawyers environment focused practice while viewed as quieter of late, was seen as effective on advisory and climate change matters.

Wallmans’ local government focused practice and the broad skills of Partner Ben Allan a were highlighted.



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