Australasian Law Awards 2023: Winners revealed

The Australasian legal profession enjoyed its own coronation ceremony last night

Australasian Law Awards 2023: Winners revealed

King Charles III isn’t the only one who got crowned this month – last night, Australasian Lawyer held its own coronation for the best of the Australasian legal industry at the awards ceremony for the 2023 Australasian Law Awards.

At the Fullerton Hotel Sydney, the legal profession gathered at an elegant in-person gala to honour the top law firms, lawyers, in-house legal teams, arbitrators, mediators and service providers across 32 categories.

Clayton Utz, Resolution Institute and SP Search & Consulting put their stamps on three different categories as awards sponsors. Clayton Utz got to honour the Australian In-house Team of the Year; the Resolution Institute crowned the Australian Arbitrator and Mediator of the Year; and SP Search & Consulting got to recognise the Australian Dealmaker of the Year and Law Firm Leader of the Year (500+ Employees).

With such a strong pool of candidates in the running at this year’s awards, Australasian Lawyer also took the opportunity to recognise the excellence awardees who just barely missed out on the crown, demonstrating the incredible talent present in the legal industry today.

Australasian Lawyer congratulates the event’s winners and excellence awardees:

DEAL AWARDS

Debt Market Deal of the Year

WINNER
EQT acquisition of Icon Group

Lead firms: Baker McKenzie, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Herbert Smith Freehills
All other Organisations that worked on the deal (Firms, Banks and Accountants): King & Wood Mallesons, Latham & Watkins

Judges' comments include: "Highly technical deal involving cross-jurisdictional aspects; An excellent submission that went into detail to explain the complexity and innovation required to close what was clearly a complex deal involving a number of parties."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group issue of ANZ Capital Notes 7
CSL Finance US$4 billion senior bond issue
Qualitas $A600 million funding package
Refinancing of Reliance Rail with $1.8 billion, 21-year Green Sustainability-Linked Loan

Equity Market Deal of the Year

WINNER
All-stock merger of BHP Petroleum business with Woodside Energy Group

Lead firms: Herbert Smith Freehills, Sullivan & Cromwell

Judges' comments include: "By far the largest deal involving multiple stock exchanges with global impact; An excellent submission and worthy of first place. The cross border legal advice was a standout."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

A$650 million placement of Orica shares
Air New Zealand Limited renounceable rights issue
Atlas Arteria’s A$3.1 billion non-renounceable entitlement issue
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group A$3.5 billion equity raise

Infrastructure & Projects Deal of the Year

WINNER
Western Harbour Tunnel project

Lead firm: Ashurst
All other Organisations that worked on the deal (Firms, Banks and Accountants): Ernst & Young, Landers & Rogers, MinterEllison, Valorem

Judges' comments include: "A fantastic example of seamless execution of a highly complex project; incredibly complicated transaction and deserving winner; significant breadth and innovations to navigate technical complexities and the size of the project were stand out features of this submission."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Lendlease Building Contractors refurbishment of Frankston Hospital campus
METRONET's Byford Rail extension and Victoria Park–Canning level crossing removal
OMERS Infrastructure acquisition of TPG Telecom’s mobile tower assets
VicRoads Modernisation Project

Insolvency & Restructuring Deal of the Year

WINNER
APA Group acquisition of Basslink

Lead firms: Ashurst, Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons
All other Organisations that worked on the deal (Firms, Banks and Accountants): Allens, Clayton Utz, Ernst & Young, FTI Consulting, Houlihan Lokey, Korda Mentha, PwC, White & Case

Judges' comments include: "Brilliant execution of a highly complex transaction; A very detailed submission that clearly addresses the complexity of the transaction and the innovative approach taken to achieve the outcome."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Administration of Probuild and its WBHO Infrastructure division
Ironbridge Legal restructures mining assets of Australian company in multi-jurisdictional deal
Restructuring of Camp Australia
Restructuring of Collection House Ltd

M&A Deal of the Year

WINNER
Sydney Airport acquisition by Sydney Aviation Alliance

Lead firms: Allens, Herbert Smith Freehills
All other Organisations that worked on the deal (Firms, Banks and Accountants): AustralianSuper, Australian Retirement Trust, Barrenjoey Capital Partners, Gilbert + Tobin, Global Infrastructure Partners, Goldman Sachs & Co, IFM Australian Infrastructure Fund, IFM Global Infrastructure Fund, KPMG, Macquarie Group, PwC, UBS Investment Bank

Judges' comments include: "Such a hotly contested category but the sheer size combined with the complexity in this transaction with a sector hit particularly hard by COVID make this a worthy winner of M&A Deal of the Year."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Blackstone acquisition of Crown Resorts
Block Inc. acquisition of Afterpay
Brookfield Infrastructure acquisition of AusNet Services
Sale of Axicom to Australia Tower Network
Sandfire Resources acquisition of MATSA mining complex

Mid-Market Deal of the Year

WINNER
Anchorage Partners sale of Rail First Asset Management to consortium

Lead firm: Gilbert + Tobin

Judges’ comments include: "Progressive, nuanced legal techniques and negotiations; complex and lengthy processes with various matters negotiated across multiple internal streams and groups of lawyers. Innovative legal technology solutions."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Acquisition of Crestone Wealth Management by LGT Group
Adamantem Capital acquisition of GenesisCare's cardiology businesses
Ganfeng joint venture with Leo Lithium and investment into Goulamina Lithium project

IN-HOUSE AWARDS

Banking & Financial Services In-House Team of the Year 

WINNER
IFM Investors

Judges' comments include: "IFM's Australian legal team has had a phenomenal year. A truly exceptional and high performing legal team; Breadth and complexity of work across the team shows a team that is used to dealing with high volume, high risk, complex legal matters."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Judo Bank Legal Team
UBS AG, Australia Branch

Insurance In-House Team of the Year 

WINNER
AIA Australia Legal Team

Judges' comments include: "The Legal Team stands out for its innovative approach to delivering in-house legal services, its commitment to the development of its people, completing several major deals, supporting the business to bring to market new products and features, and navigating the business through regulatory challenges faced by the industry."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

The Steadfast Group Legal Team

Young In-House Lawyer of the Year (35 or under)

WINNER
Candice Gin, The Adecco Group

Judges' comments include: "Outstanding work not only in her legal practice, but also in customer experience and team engagement. All the more impressive considering the low usage of external law firms."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Charlotte Olsen, National Rugby League
Eleanor Wheelhouse, TPG Telecom
Joshua Goldsmith, Computershare
Karthik Maganty, Deloitte Asia Pacific
Shaniya Vilash, Daimler Truck Australia Pacific
William Daymond, Galderma 

Australian In-House Lawyer of the Year

WINNER
Marnie Manning, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (former)

Judges' comments include: "An amazing list of achievements over a short period - adaptable, dedicated and strategically innovative."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Adam Lister, ASM Global (Asia Pacific)
Janelle Cain, EBOS Group
Kate Draper, Moreton Bay Regional Council|
Michael Guilday, Sydney Fish Market
Rama Lingard, Mastercard  

CLAYTON UTZ Australian In-House Team of the Year 

WINNER
Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC) Legal, NSW Treasury

Judges' comments include: "The OECC Legal Team has demonstrated they are a truly high performing team, having made several ground-breaking forays into unchartered territory, in the clean energy space; Impressive to see a whole of series of "firsts" listed in this submission - congratulations to the team."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Ahpra National Legal Practice
Amcor Flexibles Asia Pacific
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Legal Team
Fujitsu Australia Legal and Compliance Team
Mastercard Australia Legal Team
Partners in Performance

Sponsored by CLAYTON UTZ

NZ In-House Team of the Year 

WINNER
AIA NZ

Judges' comments include: "Impressive – working across such a breadth of matters and engaging extensively at the regulatory level. Great to see pro bono support in legal and non-legal work; This team exemplifies the desirable qualities of an in-house team which is to do good for the business and do good for the wider community and profession."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Fonterra Legal Team
Spark NZ's legal team
UBS NZ  

INDUSTRY AWARDS

RESOLUTION INSTITUTE Australian Arbitrator of the Year 

WINNER
Judith Levine, Levine Arbitration

Judges' comments include: "A highly skilled and highly regarded arbitrator; International and cross-jurisdictional arbitration work with significant contributions to the arbitration community and wider legal community."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Robert Heath KC FCIArb, Victorian Bar
RA Holt KC FCIArb, Alfred Lutwyche Chambers
Russell Thirgood, Independent Arbitrator
Steven Goldstein, Edmund Barton Chambers
Toby Shnookal QC, Independent Arbitrator

Sponsored by RESOLUTION INSTITUTE

RESOLUTION INSTITUTE Australian Mediator of the Year 

WINNER
Anne-Marie Cade, Divorce Right

Judges' comments include: "Awarded highest score for emphasis on innovation; Anne-Marie’s research to support and continue her professional work in the field is impressive and outstanding."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Lisanne Iriks, Life Mediation
Nicole Davidson, Nicole Davidson Negotiation
Shelby Timmins, Divorce Done Differently

Sponsored by RESOLUTION INSTITUTE

Legal Service Provider of the Year 

WINNER
Thomson Reuters

Judges' comments include: "A strong submission that demonstrates keeping up with the changing legal market while also thinking ahead."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Coaching Advocates
Lawcadia
Lawganised
LOD
PwC NewLaw
TransPerfect Legal Solutions

FIRM AWARDS

NZ Deal Firm of the Year 

WINNER
Chapman Tripp

Judges' comments include: "Impressive depth of team experience, capacity to handle large numbers of complex deals; The firm remains distinguished in the NZ market by its breadth and depth of expertise and its unfailing commitment to client service."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Bell Gully
MinterEllisonRuddWatts
Russell McVeagh
Simpson Grierson
Webb Henderson

SP & SEARCH CONSULTING Australian Dealmaker of the Year 

WINNERS
Sandy Mak, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Judges' comments include: "An emerging leader in the M&A space, demonstrating leading skills and a strong client following."

Tony Damian, Herbert Smith Freehills

Judges' comments include: "Tony is at the top of his game and the top of M&A legal practice in Australia, both as a practitioner and as a thought leader."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Con Boulougouris, MinterEllison
Neil Pathak, Gilbert + Tobin
Ron Smooker, Maddocks
Sarah Yu, King & Wood Mallesons
Tom Story, Allens
Waldo D. Jones, Jr., Sullivan & Cromwell

Sponsored by SP & SEARCH CONSULTING

NZ Dealmaker of the Year 

WINNER
Anna Buchly, Bell Gully

Judges' comments include: "Not only an impressive list of deals from this leading practitioner, but all the more impressive for their completion whilst supporting the legal profession more broadly with pro bono and board activities; Strong commitment and contributions – especially concerning diversity & inclusion."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Dan Jones, Russell McVeagh
Graeme Quigley, Webb Henderson
John Conlan, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
Michal Pollard, Simpson Grierson
Roger Wallis, Chapman Tripp

Excellence in Employee Health & Wellbeing 

WINNER
Brave Legal

Judges' comments include: "A real innovative initiative about how to support clients through a difficult period; innovative approaches that had a positive impact on the firm; Well-being is built into the DNA of the firm."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Baker McKenzie, BakerWellbeing Committee
Hall & Wilcox
Herbert Smith Freehills
Pragma Lawyers

Excellence in Technology & Innovation 

WINNER
Gilbert + Tobin

Judges' comments include: "The firm once again excelled in this category, innovating in both its internal legal service function and client facing front; used technology to develop its young lawyers, for pro bono youth work and committed to finding innovative solutions for clients."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Allens
Clayton Utz
Hall & Wilcox
Herbert Smith Freehills
K&L Gates
Sprintlaw

Employment Law Specialist Firm of the Year 

WINNER
Harmers Workplace Lawyers

Judges' comments include: "An impressive list of substantial and significant cases."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Aitken Legal
Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors
Danny King Legal
Jewell Hancock Employment Lawyers
Workdynamic Australia

Insurance Specialist Firm of the Year 

WINNER
Gilchrist Connell

Comments include: "A leading firm advising on complex issues and providing solutions to businesses across the insurance sector; Impressive line-up and growth, including the pro bono practice, during 2022."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Barry Nilsson
Meridian Lawyers
Moray & Agnew Lawyers
Sparke Helmore Lawyers
William Roberts Lawyers

Boutique Firm of the Year 

WINNERS
Aspect Legal

Judges' comments include: "Implemented impressive initiatives to better service the high-demand micro M&A market; a fabulous growth story utilising innovation; cost effective, efficient and fit-for-purpose outcomes."

KLM Solicitors

Judges' comments include: "Continued excellence which goes beyond the technical legal requirements."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Advantage Legal
Ironbridge Legal
NDA Law
Phi Finney McDonald
Quantum Law Group

Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (35 or under)

WINNER
Katalin Lello, Lander & Rogers

Judges' comments include: "An impressive breadth of excellence displayed by this practitioner. From pro bono to high value cases, they get her excellent attention and care. She contributes to the improvement of the firm, clients and the community’s lives."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Emily Barrett, Johnson Winter Slattery
Huiming Lin, AusLaw Partners
Justine Tao Zhou, Quantum Law Group
Lauren John, Allens
Tom Henderson, Baker McKenzie
Zefy Souvlakis, Ethos Migration Lawyers

Law Firm Leader of the Year (1-100 Employees)

WINNER
Danielle Snell, Elit Lawyers by McGirr & Snell

Judges' comments include: "Demonstrates a commitment to leadership in all aspects of both legal practice and leadership. Danielle should be incredibly proud of her achievements and the opportunities she is creating."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Aleisha MacKenzie, Construct Law Group
Amanda Banton, Banton Group
Demetrio Zema, Law Squared
Trevor Withane, Ironbridge Legal
Keith Redenbach, Redenbach Legal 

Law Firm Leader of the Year (101-500 Employees)

WINNER
Mark Pistilli, Gadens

Judges' comments include: "Mark’s work really sets him apart from the field, achieving change and positive growth not only in diversity but also in all other areas of ESG metrics; Well done on an incredible year and extraordinary achievements including in D&I as well as exceptional growth."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Jason Denisenko, Allen & Overy
Kieren Parker, Addisons
Levent Shevki, Cornwalls
Paul Hopkins, Carter Newell Lawyers
Stipe Vuleta, Chamberlains Law Firm  

SP & SEARCH CONSULTING Law Firm Leader of the Year (>500 Employees)

WINNER
Danny Gilbert, Gilbert + Tobin

Judges' comments include: "Danny has been an inspirational leader to generations of lawyers. Even as he reaches the end of his illustrious career as a managing partner, he continues to engage, inspire and innovate not just in our profession, but in the wider community."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Anthony Foley, Baker McKenzie
David Newman, Maddocks
Doug Stipanicev, Dentons
Paul Jenkins, Ashurst  

Sponsored by SP & SEARCH CONSULTING

State/Regional Firm of the Year

WINNER
HHG Legal Group

Judges' comments include: "An outstanding example of the bedrock of the profession – a regional firm providing legal advice and services to individuals and small businesses when and where they need it."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

New South Lawyers
Redenbach Legal
Southern Waters Legal
Thynne + Macartney  

Law Firm of the Year (1-100 Lawyers)

WINNER
Holman Webb Lawyers

Judges' comments include: "The firm should be proud of their dedication to supporting their people – they are a role model to other firms in this respect; all the hallmarks of what it takes to grow a solid and sustainable business."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Aston Legal Group
Australian Family Lawyers
Carter Newell Lawyers
Cooper Grace Ward
LegalVision 

Law Firm of the Year (101-500 Lawyers)

WINNER
Hamilton Locke

Judges' comments include: "Strong growth, innovative approach to client service and multiple awards. Impressive."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Chamberlains Law Firm
Lander & Rogers
Macpherson Kelley
Turks

Law Firm of the Year (>500 Lawyers)

WINNER
King & Wood Mallesons 

Judges' comments include: " An excellent overview of the depth and breadth of this leading law firm, distinguished by its client service and innovation; a premier law firm at the top of its game."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Allens
Ashurst
Baker McKenzie
Clayton Utz
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Gilbert + Tobin
Herbert Smith Freehills

Diversity Initiative of the Year

WINNER
Dowson Turco Lawyers

Judges' comments include: "Impressive and tangible contributions that deserve recognition; used their skills and resources to make meaningful change and a significant impact beyond the firm."

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES

Allens
Bird & Bird
Clayton Utz
Dentons
Hall & Wilcox
Harmers Workplace Lawyers 

The full list of winners can also be found here.

 

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