Who came away on top of the profession?
The winners of the 2022 Australasian Law Awards were announced last night at the ceremony’s return to a glamorous in-person gala at the Hilton Sydney.
Law firms, lawyers, in-house legal teams, arbitrators, mediators and service providers were honoured across 32 categories that defined the legal profession in Australia and New Zealand. Excellence awardees were also recognised in acknowledgment of the profession’s strength and resilience over the past two years.
Awards sponsors Clayton Utz, Resolution Institute, SP Search & Consulting and Dye & Durham each sought to highlight special achievements in the profession. Clayton Utz sought the Australian In-house Team of the Year, while the Resolution Institute aimed to reward the Australian Arbitrator and Mediator of the Year.
SP Search & Consulting looked to celebrate the Australian Dealmaker of the Year and the Law Firm Leader of the Year (>200 employees). Dye & Durham put its stamp on the award for Law Firm of the Year (101-500 lawyers).
Australasian Lawyer congratulates the event’s winners and excellence awardees:
Debt Market Deal of the Year
Winner: Global Infrastructure Partners acquisition of stake in Queensland Curtis LNG project
- Firms: Allens, Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright, PWC
- Banks: ANZ, Bank of China, BNP Paribas, CBA, HSBC, ICBC, Mizuho, MUFG, NAB, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered, SMBC
Comment from judges: “A broad, yet bespoke, transaction.”
Equity Market Deal of the Year
Winner: PEXA IPO
- Firms: Allen & Overy, King & Wood Mallesons (Australia), Sidley Austin (U.S.)
Comment from judges: “A fantastic category of finalists and an extraordinary IPO demonstrating enormous complexity and innovation.”
Infrastructure & Projects Deal of the Year
Winner: North East Link PPP
- Firms: Allens, Clayton Utz, Herbert Smith Freehills
Comment from judges: "The largest PPP in Australian history and Victoria's largest single transport infrastructure, this deal will bring many first-to-market innovations to the PPP legal landscape."
Insolvency & Restructuring Deal of the Year
Winner: Boart Longyear restructuring
- Firms: Ashurst, Gilbert + Tobin, MinterEllison, Wharton & Garrison
- Bank: Jefferies
Comment from judges: "A large, complex, multi-jurisdictional transaction which was very well-executed."
Mid-Market Deal of the Year
Winner: Apex acquisition of Mainstream
- Firms: Herbert Smith Freehills, Maddocks, Miles Advisory
- Bank: Macquarie Group
Comment from judges: "The competitive head and tension of this deal added complexity to every element. It really stands out. "
M&A Deal of the Year
Winner: Santos merger with Oil Search
- Firms: Allens, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills, JB North & Co, King & Spalding
- Banks: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Capital, Rothschild & Co
Comment from judges: "High value and high profile deal evidences complexity and breadth with the cross-jurisdictional issues in PNG."
Banking & Financial Services In-House Team of the Year
Winner: AustralianSuper Legal Department
Comment from judges: "A very impressive summary of what was clearly a very busy and complex year."
Insurance In-house Team of the Year
Winner: Youi Insurance In-House Legal Team
Comment from judges: "Successfully managed a range of complex external regulatory matters, while also creating internal value and scaling operations through the introduction of various efficiency measures designed in-house. Great to see such effective partnering with the business."
Young In-House Lawyer of the Year (30 or under)
Winner: Shirley Lee, 3M Australia
Comment from judges: "Innovative approach to providing legal services inhouse and developing strategic approach to complex transactions."
Australian In-house Lawyer of the Year
Winner: Nicole Graham, NSW Land Registry Services
Comment from judges: "An impressive package of projects delivered in 2021, alongside development of the team and contribution to diversity & inclusion and sustainability initiatives.”
CLAYTON UTZ Australian In-house Team of the Year
Winner: NSW Treasury Office of General Counsel
Comment from judges: "Massive team contribution in the past year to significant projects, government programs and matters, amidst other important initiatives."
NZ In-house Team of the Year
Winner: Fonterra Cooperative Group
Comment from judges: "Impressive full-spectrum in-house legal service spanning corporate, commercial (IP) etc. Plus, loved the ways in which team members give back to the community (legal and wider).”
RESOLUTION INSTITUTE Australian Arbitrator of the Year
Winner: Russell Thirgood, Independent Arbitrator
RESOLUTION INSTITUTE Australian Mediator of the Year
Winner: Nina Harding, Nina Harding Mediation Services
Legal Service Provider of the Year
Comment from judges: "Demonstrated clear understanding of industry needs (in-house and law firm) and the value added by services together with continuous improvement of systems and services offered."
NZ Deal Firm of the Year
Winner: MinterEllisonRuddWatts M&A team
Comment from judges: ''Demonstrated involvement in significant deals and importance of involvement in transactions."
SP SEARCH & CONSULTING Australian Dealmaker of the Year
Winner: Tony Damian, Herbert Smith Freehills
Comment from judges: "Tony's deal leadership included advising on the 3 largest M&A deals of the year and providing innovative advice on the largest cash deal which have seen industries transformed – from resources to financial services through to consumer goods and building products, not to mention also publishing a textbook on mergers and still found time for non-billable and community contributions."
NZ Dealmaker of the Year
Winner: Silvana Schenone, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
Comment from judges: "A fantastic submission with impressive client testimonials. Also very pleased to see the broader contribution being made to the profession in the D&I space – not something usually seen in M&A submissions."
Corporate Citizen Firm of the Year
Winner: King & Wood Mallesons
Comment from judges: "Client-focused innovation and drive to make a difference for its employees and in the pro-bono space."
Excellence in Employee Health & Wellbeing
Winner: Brave Legal
Comment from judges: "Truly innovative and inspiring. This is 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."
Excellence in Technology & Innovation
Winner: Gilbert + Tobin Legal Service Innovation Team
Comment from judges: "An industry-leading offering that is accelerating the takeup of technology and the benefits of innovation in the legal profession."
Employment Law Specialist Firm of the Year
Winner: Workdynamic Australia
Comment from judges: "A fresh and innovative approach to supporting clients across the spectrum of employment matters; Excellent submission demonstrating depth and breadth of achievements, impressive clients, team and pro bono contributions."
Insurance Specialist Firm of the Year
Winner: Sparke Helmore Lawyers
Boutique Firm of the Year
Winner: Ironbridge Legal
Comment from judges: "Despite being a relatively young firm, it has been involved in key transactions for significant corporates in the insolvency and commercial litigation space."
Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (30 or under)
Winner: Mannie Kaur Verma, Regal Lawyers
Comment from judges: "Establishment of the non-profit organisation is a wonderful extra-curricular accomplishment which, on top of the excellent accomplishments achieved in the office, made this application really stand out."
Law Firm Leader of the Year (<200 employees)
Winner: Kelli Martin, KLM Solicitors
Comment from judges: "Whilst growing her suburban practices, Kelli has demonstrated to her employees, clients and the community her commitment to making the world a fairer and more equitable place to live particularly for women."
SP SEARCH & CONSULTING Law Firm Leader of the Year (>200 employees)
Winner: Tony Macvean, Hall & Wilcox
Comment from judges: "Tony is an inspirational leader and a custodian of culture – his commitment to people and wellbeing is an example to all law firm leaders."
State/Regional Firm of the Tear
Winner: Travis Partners Law
Comment from judges: "For a small team at Travis Partners Law, they have ‘punched above their weight’ in the Newcastle region this year, in particular two IPOs and ASX listings."
Law Firm of the Year (1-100 lawyers)
Comment from judges: "A real and successful disruptor in the legal industry, with a great online presence contributing significantly to client education."
DYE & DURHAM Law Firm of the Year (101-500 lawyers)
Winner: Hall & Wilcox
Comment from judges: "An outstanding mid-sized firm – clear strategy and absolute commitment to delivering for clients."
Law Firm of the Year (>500 lawyers)
Winner: King & Wood Mallesons
Comment from judges: "KWM's pre-eminence in transactions, its client focused innovation and its drive to make a difference for its employees and in the pro bono space make it a well-deserved winner in this extremely impressive category."
Diversity Initiative of the Year
Winners: Ashurst and Hall & Wilcox
Comments from judges: "A great submission and well done on Ashurst for its 26 weeks full parental pay leave policy. Specific steps taken by Ashurst, setting a high standard for other law firms to follow."
"Very impressed with the breadth of diversity and inclusion initiatives [at Hall & Wilcox] – from gender targets at partner and board level, pro bono partner for VIC Pride Centre, partnering with Supply Nation to ensure indigenous businesses are included in its supply chain, and work on its parental leave policy; A broad approach with eyes to all aspects of D&I."
The full list of winners can also be found here.