MPs compete for top spot

By Stephanie Quine|23 July 2013

Six Australian law firm leaders will be vying for the hotly-contested Managing Partner Award at this year’s Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards in Melbourne on Friday.

Six Australian law firm heads will be vying for the hotly-contested Managing Partner Award at this year’s Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards in Melbourne on Friday (26 July).


Finalists were drawn from global, national and mid-sized firms, each with vastly different visions of the ideal business model. The finalist’s beat off competition in the popular category by showing clear examples of leadership, both internally at the firm-level, and within the broader profession. Lawyers Weekly looks forward to celebrating their achievements and vision at Melbourne's Crown Casino this Friday (26 July). Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

Last year, Corrs Chambers Westgarth partners unanimously voted John Denton (pictured above) to a five-year term as their CEO. Denton is well known for his relentless strategy to remain an independent Australian firm amid the many mergers and global arrivals in the Australian market of late. In the face of increased competition, Denton’s vision has seen Corrs maintain revenue and avoid hiring or pay freezes this year. Under his leadership the firm re-designed its office workspace this year and implemented a new performance review framework to allow greater and more flexible rewards for lawyer performance. 


Dunstan de Souza led Colin Biggers & Paisley through significant growth last year, with a merger with Melbourne-based Monahan + Rowell. Since 2011, staff numbers at the firm have increased by 41 per cent across its Sydney and Melbourne offices. De Souza’s hands-on implementation of workplace satisfaction initiatives has helped to nearly half staff turnover in seven years. He has also overseen robust revenue growth while re-positioning the firm from a full-service law firm to a market leader in the areas of insurance, construction, property and commercial litigation.

Under Chris Freeland’s leadership, Baker and McKenzie has been a strong thought leader in the Australian legal market. The introduction of the Global Business Challenges Series, which involves bringing experts on important issues to meet with clients and preparing major thought leadership reports on topics of interest to clients, has attracted publicity for the firm and increased engagement with its clients. Freeland has also spearheaded an increased focus on diversity at Bakers in Australia, with the BakerWomen program introducing gender percentage goals for the firm’s leadership positions and hosting a lecture series featuring Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales.

Luke Geary (pictured right) is the founder and managing partner of the unique self-sustaining law firm Salvos Legal. Geary launched Salvos Legal in late 2010, practising in the areas of property and commercial transactional law on a paid basis, in order to to fund holistic and free legal services for the disadvantaged and marginalised throughout NSW and Queensland through Salvos Legal Humanitarian . Under Geary’s leadership, the firm has secured major institutional clients including the Commonwealth Bank and Anglicare to enable Salvos Legal Humanitarian to assist in more than 260 cases each fortnight, for free and without any government funding, for those in need.

David Kearney established Wotton + Kearney as a firm of six lawyers in 2002. After opening a third office, in Brisbane this month, the firm took its lawyer count to 85. Under Kearney’s leadership, including his pursuit of opportunities in the London insurance market, the firm has continued to experience dramatic revenue increases. It is one of the few firms in Australia based in more than one city practising solely in insurance law.

John Poulsen was the managing partner of Minter Ellison’s Perth office before taking the helm of Squire Sanders Australia when the firm entered Australia in 2011. He has been instrumental in integrating the new firm into the global network, with a focus on global strength with strong regional connections. In November last year he coordinated the launch of a Sydney office and a project office in Darwin.

MPs compete for top spot
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