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.
A planning and environment market that continues to experience only moderate levels of activity has seen something of a thinning down of our rankings. In particular the personnel movements highlighted in 2012 have, by and large, failed to yield substantial results and the practices they departed from are yet to rebuild.
Activity wise much focus has been placed on government related work and a changing planning lansdscape. Beyond this, pickings have been slim.
(Firms Listed in Alphabetical Order)
Specialist planning and environment firm Botten Levinson continue to dominate the private client/developer side of the fence in the planning space. “They’re everywhere” noted one peer while another saw the firm as “the unquestioned leader”.
Cowell Clarke’s 2012 hire of environment specialist Judith Bradsen while successful to a degree is yet to see the firm gain substantial traction in the broader planning and environment market.
The Finlaysons’ planning and environment practice continues to maintain a steady pace while being steered by the increasingly impressive guidance of Senior Associate Kyra Reznikov. “She gains my respect” note done peer of Reznikov while another saw her “effectively operating as a Partner”.
Griffins Lawyers’ presence in the South Australian planning market looks not to have effectively recovered from the 2012 departure of Partner James Hilditch. Veteran John McElhinney continues to be noted however was seen as increasingly winding his practice down.
Mellor Olsson’s run at weakening Norman Waterhouse’s dominant position in acting for local government bodies appears to have stalled somewhat. Nonetheless Partner Anthony Kelly’s continues to be well regarded and is considered “a straight shooter”.
Minter Ellison’s has yet to rebuild its planning and environment presence in the South Australian market with the firm only being seen on aspects of government related projects and certain resources matters.
If Botten Levinson dominate South Australia’s developer based planning work then it’s an understatement to say that Norman Waterhouse do the same on the local and state government side of the equation. Senior Partner Gavin Leydon continues to be “the figurehead” and “a dominant presence” while young partner Peter Psaltis continues to gain traction. Importantly the firm was seen as having extended its reach beyond its traditional planning strength into environmental matters.
Thomsons Lawyers environment focused practice under the stewardship of respected partner Fraser Bell was seen as having increased its presence in recent times.
Wallmans’ local government focused practice and the broad skills of Partner Ben Allan a were highlighted.