May 31, 2024
Doyle's Guide

Editorial Commentary – Queensland Planning & Environment, 2015

 Return to Normality

After a number of years where a challenging property and economic environment saw some of Queensland’s traditionally stronger planning and environment practices drop in our rankings, our 2015 rankings show the beginnings of a return to the way things used to be.

An increase in overall property market activity combined with a broader decrease in resources and infrastructure related environment work saw the likes of HopgoodGanim and Norton Rose Fulbright back on the radar.  HopgoodGanim’s return is to be expected given the firm’s and Practice Leader David Nicholl’s strong track record in planning matters and Norton Rose Fulbright, while still a fair distance away from previous heights, have begun to re-establish a presence beyond the ever present quality and professionalism offered by Michael Walton.

Similarly, Queensland boutique/specialist environment firms, after having a quieter few years, have also begun to return as significant market participants and an aggressive competitive influence on the market generally.  Gantt Legal has looks to have returned as developer favourite with Principals Andrew Davis and Cliff Wirz also gaining strong mention.  Local government focused King & Company also polled well and appears to have gained some traction in future-proofing the practice with Terry Law appearing in our rankings for the first time.

Amidst this return to the established order of things a number of mid-tier firms have tried and generally failed at either establishing or increasing their presence in the planning and environment space.  There’s already a strong mid-tier presence in the Queensland planning and environment space and the stronger specialist planning firms mop up any remaining market space which is likely the reason newer entrants continue to fail to make any significant impact.

Blurred Lines

A reduction in resources related environment work has both reduced the standing of some firms and practitioners who previously gained an uplift from such work.  Clayton Utz’s Karen Trainor still remains the clear market leader on environment matters however with resources related environment work now reduced the standings of many of the market’s stronger planning lawyers such as Henry Prokuda, Ian Wright and Russell Bowie now feature more prominently in our Environment rankings and indeed polled more strongly than some of the historically better regarded “Environment” lawyers.

Thin Bar

The downturn in planning appeal work over the past 5 to 6 years appears to have changed the face and shape of the Queensland planning and environment bar.  Danny Gore QC still sits atop the ranks of Senior Counsel and is flaked by a small number of other excellent silks but the scarcity or work and an increasingly reluctance to use QC’s due to costs considerations has sees no new entrants in our rankings.

Amongst Junior Counsel only the fiery Mitchell Batty has emerged as a stronger player in our rankings in recent years and many of the individuals who have polled well in previous years appear to have had their influence reduced simply due to a drop in overall activity.






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