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Partner Profile: Owen Hayford

Partner Profile: Owen Hayford

Every week we ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This week: Clayton Utz's Owen Hayford.

Which firm are you with?

Clayton Utz.

When did you join that firm?

1995; as a graduate straight out of law school.

When were you made a partner of that firm?

January 2005.

Which firm were you at most recently prior to this?

I am proud to say that I have spent my entire legal career at Clayton Utz. 

What practice group are you with?

I am part of the construction & major projects team. It is one of the largest dedicated construction and major projects practices in the country, with over 30 partners and more than 100 lawyers.

What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career?

I’ve drafted and negotiated a lot of construction and public private partnership (PPP) contracts over my career. One of the biggest changes I have observed is the way in which contracts are structured and risk is allocated between parties. The risk allocation constantly evolves in response to market cycles. During the mining boom, when demand for civil engineering services exceeded supply, the industry saw an explosion in alliance contracting, with project owners sharing most if not all construction-related risks with their contractors. It was very hard at that time to get a contractor to tender for civil construction works on a traditional fixed-price basis. Now that there is less construction work around, project owners are finding that contractors are willing to accept more risk. The ‘market’ position on risk allocation is constantly changing, and ‘standard form’ construction contracts never achieve an optimal risk allocation.

What has been a major career highlight for you?

Attending my first partners AGM as a new Clayton Utz partner is probably one of the biggest highlights. Professionally speaking, being a member of the legal teams that have advised on some of the most complex and significant Australian infrastructure projects of their time, such as the Adelaide-Darwin railway project, the M7 motorway project, the Waratah Train project and now the North West Rail Link, is something of which I am very proud.

What do you like about being a lawyer?

I enjoy the challenge of having new problems to solve every day. I also like dealing with a range of different issues: legal, commercial, people and business management.

What do you find challenging?

Finding the time to fit in everything I want to in a day.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Spending time with my family (and the dog), and planning my next holiday. Enjoying good food, good wine and good company. I’ve just returned from a three-day hike with my two eldest sons (11 and nine years old) through the Kosciuszko Alpine Area, which was both challenging and enjoyable.

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Partner Profile: Owen Hayford
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