December 10, 2023
Doyle's Guide

Editorial Commentary – Planning & Environment, WA 2014

Market Overview
The dust caused by a number personnel movements and new market players in our last round of rankings now appears to have settled and the majority of Western Australia’s stronger planning practices appear to have found the particular market position and focus.

The decrease in resources related environmental work appears to have reduced the attempts of many of the mid to smaller firms to move into this space and the area again is now dominated by the traditionally stronger and larger practices at the likes of Herbert Smith Freehills and Clayton Utz.

On the planning side and slight uptick in the property market has allowed the smaller and mid-sized firms to refocus much of their energies and efforts back into planning and development related work.

Firm Capabilities (Alphabetical Order)


Ashurst’s capabilities across resources related environment and native title matters was noted.

Clayton Utz Partner Brad Wylyko’s efforts in working across environment and climate change matters are now being complemented by the emergence of Mark Etherington has further strengthened the firm’s reputation in this area.

DLA Piper Senior Associate Sara van den Hoogen’s absence on maternity leave has affected the firm’s standing in the environment space in recent times.

Flint Moharich’s developer concentrated client base and Partner Belinda Moharich’s “results focused” and “commercial approach” were highly regarded.

Glen McLeod Consulting Lawyer’s recent expansion is reflective of the firm’s ability to deal with discrete planning and environment matters.  In this regard the firm was singled out for its expertise in compulsory acquisition and land clearing matters.

Herbert Smith Freehill’s Tony Van Merwyk continues to be the market’s most respected environment lawyer with comments viewing him as “practical” and “knowing the outcome we want and working towards it”.

Jackson McDonald’s presence in the Western Australian planing market may have dimmed somewhat yet Partner Julius Skinner remains a “sharp and clever mind”.

King & Wood Mallesons’ Sally Audeyev continues to gain a positive reputation on environment and native title matters.

Lavan Legal remains the market’s dominant planning practice.  Young Partner Craig Wallace “is doing a pretty good job of running that practice now” while veteran Paul McQueen has moved to a “Counsel” role where, while continuing to act for the firm’s clients, also accepts barrister/advocate style briefs from interstate firms and other local firms who may lack planning expertise.

Claremont based McLeods continues to be the dominant provider of planning and environment related legal services to Western Australia’s local government bodies.  The firm’s strong market position was viewed as occasionally leading to a reputation of being extremely forceful in asserting their client position.  As senior partner Denis McLeod continues to phase out Partners Andrew Roberts and Craig Slarke have ably stepped in to take his place.

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