The legal profession's biggest stars strutted their stuff at the Hilton Sydney last week
On 19 May, the legal profession’s top performers were celebrated live and in person at the Hilton Sydney as the Australasian Law Awards made a triumphant comeback after two years of virtual ceremonies.
The Australasian Law Awards showcased why it is among the biggest events in the legal profession across Australia and New Zealand. Winners were honoured across 32 categories focusing on the achievements of law firms, lawyers, in-house legal teams, arbitrators, mediators and service providers.
Big deals were spotlighted in six categories – top global firms Allens, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright and PwC were recognised for their work in the transaction that bagged the win for Debt Market Deal of the Year. Meanwhile, Allen & Overy, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and US-based Sidley Austin were rewarded for their efforts on the PEXA IPO, which nabbed Equity Market Deal of the Year.
The Santos merger with Oil Search took out M&A Deal of the Year, with Allens, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills, JB North & Co and King & Spalding getting nods. On the New Zealand side, MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ M&A team emerged victorious as the NZ Deal Firm of the Year, while partner Silvana Schenone was named NZ Dealmaker of the Year.
“It’s very inspiring to see what members of our industry achieved in 2021. It was a challenging year for a lot of reasons and to see so many firms, individuals and teams doing important and innovative work is really impressive. I don’t practice in M&A but it definitely was a great year for M&A deals!” said awards judge Catherine Baxter, who is Transport for NSW’s executive director for legal, property, planning and environment.
The Australasian Law Awards also shone a light on the important work being done by firms in areas like diversity and inclusion and tech. Boutique firm Brave Legal received the Excellence in Employee Health & Wellbeing award for showing “an example of true caring and action in an industry which often thinks that ‘resilience’ is the key to wellbeing issues.”
“What a unique and caring initiative – a law firm where health and wellbeing are synonymous with legal resolve,” judges said of the firm. “Truly innovative and inspiring.”
Ashurst and Hall & Wilcox tied for Diversity Initiative of the Year, with judges praising Ashurst’s 26-week full parental pay leave policy and Hall & Wilcox’s “broad approach with eyes to all aspects of D&I.”
Gilbert + Tobin’s legal service innovation team picked up the win in the Excellence in Technology & Innovation category for “an industry-leading offering that is accelerating the takeup of technology and the benefits of innovation in the legal profession.”
“It’s a true pleasure to get to read about the incredible initiatives, interesting work and innovation happening behind the scenes in the profession. I’m particularly loving reading about change and diversity measures taken by different firms and legal departments,” said awards judge Lucinda Browne, the senior legal counsel at Brighte Capital.
Among law firms, LegalVision, Hall & Wilcox and KWM were the big winners – LegalVision was awarded Law Firm of the Year (1-100 lawyers), Hall & Wilcox as the Dye & Durham Law Firm of the Year (101-500 lawyers) and KWM as Law Firm of the Year (>500 lawyers).
The ceremony was hosted by comedian, improv star and radio and podcast host Ed Kavalee. The event was sponsored by Clayton Utz, Resolution Institute, SP Search & Consulting and Dye & Durham.
Click here to see the full list of winners, while the excellence awardees list can be found here. Make sure to sign up for Australasian Lawyer’s free daily newsletter to receive a notification when next year’s nominations open!