Firm Overview & Capabilities
Allens Linklaters Queensland construction practice while remaining an active and important market participant continues to be seen as going through a “rebuilding phase”. Young partner Ren Neimann still lacks the length of time in a parochial Queensland market to gain the recognition he most likely deserves while former John Holland in-house counsel Adrian Baron, after joining the firm in September 2011, was viewed as “still finding his feet”.
Ashurst while currently sitting within the middle levels of our rankings may well be positioned differently in future years in recent moves yield their desired fruits. Young front-end partner Mark Disney, although still relatively new to the Queensland market, has put runs on the board and “made the most of some conflict driven appointments”. More importantly though, come November 2012 the firm will add dedicated contentious construction capabilities to it’s Brisbane offices by way of the addition of former GLNG Legal manager Jeremy Chenoweth as a Partner. Chenoweth, who previously worked as a Senior Associate at the firm (the Blake Dawson) will add both capability and credibility to the firm’s Queensland contentious offering and operate as one of the very few dedicated Queensland based “back-end” construction lawyers within what used to be referred to as the “top-tier”. Respected Partner Joanna Jenkins continues to be on secondment to the GLNG project.
Carter Newell continues to be well regarded on contentious construction matters having an insurance component. In this regard Patrick Mead and David Rodighero were noted.
While peers continue to claim that the gap between Clayton Utz and the rest of the market is narrowing a simple tally of votes proves otherwise. On both contentious and non-contentious construction matters Clayton Utz remain clear standouts. Rumours of the impending retirement of front-end guru Arch Fletcher continue to circulate however such murmurings are far from new and, while Fletcher remains the Clayton Utz Queensland front end practice will always sit atop the tree. Sergio Capellihaving relocated and returned to the Queensland market is yet to receive the accolades he receives in NSW yet, to be fair, he remains active and recognised within the NSW market. Within contentious matters Dale Brackin, despite an “old school style” enjoys begrudging respect from peers while fellow back-end lawyer Frazer Moss, although possessing an entirely different style is well regarded by clients.
Cooper Grace Ward’s lure of the experienced and “technically excellent” Sean Henderson to establish the firm’s front-end construction practice appears to have succeeded, particularly in acting for contractor clients on mid-sized projects.
The strength of Corrs Chambers Westgarth in acting on non-contentious construction matters on behalf of government and resources clients was noted. Peter Schenk was seen as a “tirelessly hard worker” with litigator Rod Dann noted for his pragmatic approach.
Herbert Smith Freehills’ Queensland construction practice has managed to maintain its upward trajectory due largerly to the efforts of two young partners. Front-end lawyers Jay Leary, by most accounts is not the traditional “construction” lawyer however his first class energy and resources background combined with a weight of work within that area and his sublime “soft skills” place him at the top of both client and peer regard. Hamish Macpherson on the other hand, as a back end lawyer delivers “a mix of top-tier and mongrel” that earns praise.
Gadens Lawyers presence in the Queensland construction space is beginning to strengthen however recent lateral hires and mergers have not yet provided the firm with the traction necessary to reach the upper tiers of our rankings.
Holding Redlich’s first mover advantage on back end mid-market matters has proved hard for competitors to peg back. Under the careful stewardship of senior Partner Steve Pyman the firm has developed and maintained a practice with both broad client appeal and strong senior level execution. Troy Lewis, previously Pyman’s second in charge has, due to a strong performance manning the front line in recent times, surpassed the previously dominant presence of Pyman.
HopgoodGanim’s largely back-end construction practice operates effectively within the mid-market across the resources and property sectors. The firm has recently added former Grocon in-house counsel and Deacons (now Norton Rose) partner to its team.
King & Wood Mallesons Partner Scott Budd manages to effectively span a lengthy secondment and operating across contentious and non-contentious construction matters.
McCullough Robertson gains strong market traction on contentious construction matters while building its reputation on non-contentious resources focused matters. Partners Brad McCosker and Bill Morrissey were viewed as “professional” and “good operators”. Partner Russell Thirgood, formerly based in Brisbane however now acting as the Managing Partner of the firm’s Sydney office was also noted for his work in this jurisdiction however, as he is currently based in Sydney he has not been included in our Queensland rankings of leading lawyers.
McInnes Wilson’s largely contentious construction practice is well regarded by peers with Partner Josh Paffey “entering his prime”.
Minter Ellison’s substantial footprint across all areas of the Queensland legal market extends into the area of construction. Partner Ian Briggs continues to be one of both the Queensland and Australia’s most respected practitioners on alliance projects.
The Norton Rose Queensland construction practice despite ongoing personnel movements has not yet gained the spark to elevate itself into the upper levels of our rankings.
Thomsons Lawyers construction practice has successfully transformed from its DLA Phillips Fox background. Partner Andrew Kelly “knows BCIPA better than anyone” commented one peer while his “pragmatic and forthright” approach was also appreciated.