Rising Stars 2022

A new generation of achievers

Australia had a tough year in 2021 as COVID-19 continued to rear its ugly head with new variants. The country spent a significant part of the year under lockdown, straining industries that had been moving towards a more relaxed environment.

Some law firms had been preparing for a gradual return to the office, but those plans were nipped in the bud by renewed restrictions. Thus, many young lawyers faced the challenge of not being able to learn by observation, driving the Australian legal profession to innovate on how it nurtured the next generation of legal talent.

Nonetheless, these challenges have provided an opportunity for young lawyers to exercise initiative in how they wanted to train, be mentored and progress in their careers. The profession’s historical resistance to change was also positively challenged, leading to lawyers discovering that they can be productive outside of the workplace while still looking after themselves.

“We have super stars [joining] at the young lawyer level, but onboarding and engagement is far more difficult in a virtual environment”
Sarah Bullock, Cornwalls



Talent development barriers

The restrictions implemented due to the pandemic continued to push firms to embrace flexible work – which had good and bad effects.

“The law has always been two steps behind the ‘real world’, and with COVID-19 that’s no different. Although COVID-19 hasn’t really changed any long-standing legal principles, it has massively influenced how lawyers and clients go about their day-to-day business,” says Sarah Bullock, Cornwalls principal and one of this year’s Rising Stars.

“From a legal industry perspective, we have seen challenges in negotiating over Zoom calls, holding court hearings online, the evolution of virtual settlements and the acceptance of digital signatures – even by some of the most conservative practitioners.”

Bullock says not reporting to the office has made it tricky for young lawyers to connect with their colleagues and learn from mentors.

“We have super stars [joining] at the young lawyer level, but onboarding and engagement is far more difficult in a virtual environment. Because you don’t have the human aspect of welcoming someone, you don’t get the same level of engagement,” she says. “This has a follow-on effect in terms of culture and learning. A lot of lawyers forget how much they learned in their early days just by osmosis from the team around them and that is what is being missed in the work from home environment.”  

Rising Star and Clayton Utz senior associate Amy Liu switched to a new firm just before lockdown. She experienced firsthand the challenge of adjusting to a new environment where staff engagement methods like informal chatting was limited.

“A consistent effort has to be made by the new joiners and partners to actively engage staff, especially given the difficulty to retain and attract experienced lawyers coupled with the Great Resignation and high turnover of staff in recent times,” Liu says. “There is a greater need for young and new lawyers to take control of their career and take the initiative in terms of getting work from partners, mentoring opportunities, and career advancement.”

“There is a greater need for young and new lawyers to take control of their career and take initiative in terms of getting work, mentoring, and career advancement
Amy Liu, Clayton Utz



Lessons from fatigue and uncertainty

For Rising Star Nicholas Yusuf, BOQ Group’s legal counsel for dispute resolution and regulatory investigations, flexible work options have enabled lawyers to do what they do best while maintaining their wellbeing. However, the strain of attending regular meetings digitally took an emotional toll on Lex Lanyon, Alinta Energy’s legal adviser for energy contracting and C&I, and another Rising Star.

“The biggest challenge I faced over 2021 was dealing with the emotional pressures of the pandemic. At times, I experienced meeting fatigue of back-to-back Teams meetings, to dealing with the emotional stress of stakeholders,” she says.

Nonetheless, the experience inspired Lanyon’s approach to work.

“[The challenge] has taught me that it’s more important than ever to be a good listener, treat stakeholders with empathy, and practice with humanity. It has also been incredibly important to set boundaries and find new ways to release stress,” she says. “I expect these challenges to continue this year and into the future as we continue to learn how to live with, and work through, the global pandemic.”

In addition, Lanyon sees how the rise of ESG is pushing in-house lawyers to further develop their skillsets.

“[ESG] covers an expansive field from disclosure requirements, advertising, financial reporting to the expanse of new markets such as Australian carbon credit units. This will require in-house lawyers to adapt to legal ‘grey areas’ and advise on legal issues in a more holistic manner rather than just the black-and-white letter of the law,” she explains. “While it poses new challenges, it is also providing exciting opportunities, that is, becoming subject matter experts and/or engaging in new stretching learning opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Yusuf and his organisation find the uncertainty around border restrictions and vaccination a tricky situation to navigate.

“The rapidly changing rules and regulations around border restrictions and vaccinations caused a lot of concern for the business, especially with offices across Australia. I am hopeful some of the uncertainty has eased in this space and that the business will be able to more easily traverse these issues this year,” Yusuf says. “As we hopefully shift our focus from the pandemic to more business-as-usual work, I think there will be increased regulatory oversight of businesses and disputes which arise.”

He believes that it is important to “appropriately prioritise managing the legal risks that may emerge across the business, particularly as regulators and the government shift from a hands-off approach to allow for business to aid the pandemic recovery, to a more focused approach.”

“It’s more important than ever to be a good listener, treat stakeholders with empathy, and practice with humanity”
Lex Lanyon, Alinta Energy


Positive change

For Bullock, the novel challenges caused by COVID-19 present opportunities for lawyers.

“Change is good as it creates work for lawyers. People are generally keen to do the right thing. So, in an ever-changing environment, that means lawyers will be sought out to provide necessary help and guidance,” she says.

Yusuf expresses a similar outlook for in-house legal teams.

“More and more businesses are looking to in-house legal counsel as trusted business advisors who can provide timely, commercial and practical legal advice to help solve the myriad problems facing businesses in this COVID-19 era,” he says. “In 2022, I expect there will be plenty of opportunities for people looking to make the move in-house to fill these roles.”

Lanyon adds that the Great Resignation has caused organisations to better recognise the value of in-house legal teams.

Many new and young lawyers are in a prime position to dictate where their careers go, and the lawyers on this year’s Rising Stars list show just how they’ve been able to turn the limitations created by the pandemic into opportunities to demonstrate their mettle. Through their remarkable accomplishments over the past 12 months, these 79 standouts proved that the Australian legal profession has a bright future.


Rising Stars 2022

  • Aboorva Sundar
    Senior associate, Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers
  • Alex Ho
    Lawyer, Massons
  • Alice Kim
    Senior associate, King & Wood Mallesons
  • Alicia Bray
    Senior associate, Hall & Wilcox
  • Amy Liu
    Senior associate, Clayton Utz
  • Anna Colless
    Legal & business affairs manager, Global Creatures
  • Ari Bendet
    Senior associate, Arnold Bloch Leibler
  • Catherine Crawford
    Senior associate, K&L Gates
  • Chanel Mercurio
    Senior associate, DLA Piper
  • Christopher Peppel
    Associate, Sparke Helmore Lawyers
  • David Adason
    Head of innovation, Senior Lawyer, Aptum Legal
  • Declan Norrie
    Senior advisor, Proximity
  • Dominic Brown
    Senior associate, KCL Law
  • Dora Cosentino
    Senior associate, MinterEllison
  • Eddie Fraser
    Prosecutor, Queensland Police Service
  • Elouise Flowers
    Legal counsel, Challenger Limited
  • Emily Barrett
    Senior associate, Johnson Winter & Slattery
  • Emily Ng
    Senior associate, Baker McKenzie
  • Esther Lee
    Senior solicitor, NSW Treasury
  • Grace Powell
    Solicitor, DLA Piper
  • Greg Midgley
    Special counsel, Clayton Utz
  • Greta Marks
    Senior associate, K&L Gates
  • Hamish Procter
    Senior associate, Aitken Legal
  • Jake Thornton
    Solicitor, DLA Piper
  • James Skelton
    Senior associate, Swaab
  • Jamie Jackson
    Senior associate, LodgeX Legal Pty Ltd
  • Jane Bruxner
    Senior associate, KLM
  • Janet Cho
    Special counsel, Baker McKenzie
  • Jennifer Robbins
    Senior associate,Clyde & Co (Australia) LLP
  • Jerome Martin
    Special counsel, Clayton Utz
  • Jessica Luker
    Lawyer, Hall & Wilcox
  • Jonathan Crass
    Associate, Sparke Helmore Lawyers
  • Joseph Nguyen
    Lawyer, Ashurst
  • Joshua Goldsmith
    Senior lawyer, KPMG Law
  • Justine Tao Zhou
    Partner, Quantum Law Group
  • Kate Cook
    Corporate legal counsel, TAL Life
  • Kate Simpson
    Senior associate, Aitken Legal
  • Kathryn Riley
    Senior lawyer, Parker Coles Curtis
  • Kerrie Duong
    Special counsel, Baker McKenzie
  • Kevin Shum
    Senior associate, Allen & Overy
  • Kimi Shah
    Partner, Kalus Kenny Intelex
  • Kiri-Ana Libbesson
    Founder/principal lawyer, Ethical Law
  • Lauren Walley
    Senior solicitor, Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office
  • Lex Lanyon
    Legal advisor (commercial & industrial), Alinta Energy
  • Madelaine McCullum
    Partner, Moray & Agnew
  • Madeleine McCloy
    Senior associate, restructuring and insolvency, Clayton Utz
  • Mannie Kaur Verma
    Principal solicitor, Regal Lawyers
  • Marco Angele
    Senior associate, Marshalls+Dent+Wilmoth Lawyers
  • Marcus Carbone
    Solicitor, Southern Waters Legal
  • Mark Gioskos
    Special counsel, Thomson Geer
  • Megan Greaves
    Senior associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
  • Melanie Young
    Associate, property & development, Russell Kennedy
  • Mx Monica Serci
    Senior lawyer, Parker Coles Curtis
  • Nicholas Yusuf
    Legal counsel, Bank of Queensland
  • Nina Abbey
    Senior associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
  • Ole Mitrevski
    Senior associate, Massons
  • Peter Craney
    Special counsel, Kennedys
  • Rachel Walls
    Senior associate, Sparke Helmore Lawyers
  • Reina Chan
    Solicitor, King & Wood Mallesons
  • Rohan Dias
    Special counsel, Lander & Rogers
  • Sara Gaertner
    Senior associate, Johnson Winter & Slattery
  • Sarah Bullock
    Principal, Cornwalls
  • Sarah Khan
    Lawyer, Hall & Wilcox
  • Saskia van Loon
    Senior associate, Johnson Winter & Slattery
  • Savanna Russo
    Solicitor, Danny King Legal
  • Seyda Andrews
    Senior legal counsel, Accor
  • Shaun Burmester
    Senior associate, property & development, Russell Kennedy
  • Simin Yang
    Corporate Counsel, TPG Telecom
  • Stephen Annicchiarico
    Senior associate, WRP Legal & Advisory
  • Theo Kapodistrias
    President (Tasmanian Division), Association of Corporate Counsel Australia
  • William Daymond
    Head of Legal and Compliance, ANZ, Galderma
  • Zainab Alsweedy
    Lawyer, MSM Legal


Australasian Lawyer sent out a nationwide call for nominations for the 2022 Rising Stars list in October 2021. Nominees were required to be 35 or under as of 31 January and committed to a career in the legal profession.

The Australasian Lawyer team asked the nominees to state their current role, responsibilities, and key achievements over the past 12 months. The team also considered recommendations from managers and senior industry professionals.

After all the submissions were reviewed, 79 individuals stood out among the pack. These Rising Stars impacted everywhere from international corporations to boutiques, and commanded the legal profession’s attention.


    58% of the Rising Stars are women

    The youngest Rising Star is aged 25

    Senior associates make up 33% of the Rising Stars