find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
The ‘buybacks queen’ with a heart of gold

The ‘buybacks queen’ with a heart of gold

A skilled dealmaker with a caring nature that endeared her to clients and colleagues alike, Fiona Gardiner-Hill will leave an impact far beyond her firm and her profession, writes Rebecca Maslen-Stannage.

Obituary

A skilled dealmaker with a caring nature that endeared her to clients and colleagues alike, Fiona Gardiner-Hill will leave an impact far beyond her firm and her profession, writes Rebecca Maslen-Stannage.

Fiona Gardiner-Hill was an outstanding lawyer and an outstanding person.

A pivotal member of the Herbert Smith Freehills M&A team, Fiona was particularly known for her legal brilliance and lateral thinking. This, combined with fine judgement, endeared Fiona to blue chip clients such as the Australian Securities Exchange which relied on her for advice on all its strategic corporate matters.

Fiona was sought after by creative and bold deal-doers such as the Seven Group, which she advised on numerous transactions, including on the KKR/Seven Media deal and the WesTrac merger.

Fiona’s achievements were the more remarkable given her modest, self-deprecating nature. M&A players are often known for big, brash personalities and healthy egos. It was a testament to her legal brilliance, problem-solving prowess and excellent judgement that Fiona succeeded despite her modest approach.

Fiona was well known at Herbert Smith Freehills for having a queue of partners and other lawyers outside her door wanting to bounce things off her.

She studied fine arts and law (including a masters degree) at Sydney University and Women’s College, before joining Freehills as a graduate. She quickly impressed firm legends like Kim Santow and David Gonski, and was selected to go on secondment to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, and then the London office.

She was made a partner in 1996.

Known at Herbert Smith Freehills as the “Buybacks Queen”, Fiona was a leading expert on buybacks. She was a true lawyer’s lawyer, admired by colleagues and peers – so it was no surprise when she won the Media Lawyer of the Year award in the peer-voted Best Lawyers survey.

Fiona was a member of the Sydney University Law Foundation. She lectured the University of New South Wales Masters Class on Corporate Control transactions and the University of Sydney undergraduate class on Corporate and Securities Regulation.

In 2013, she was appointed to the Takeovers Panel.

Despite her many career achievements, the overwhelming sense of loss among Herbert Smith Freehills, peers and clients at Fiona’s untimely death related to her caring and generous nature. She was viewed as part of the “fabric of the firm” at Herbert Smith Freehills and the “glue that kept the firm together”.

Fiona – while fearless and strong in representing her clients – at a personal level remained gentle despite the pressures of the corporate world. Any concern she ever raised was for someone else, not for herself.

While Fiona was fulfilled by her professional achievements, what mattered most to her was her beloved husband Richard Caldwell and her daughters Zara and Catie. 

She was much loved by all who knew her and will be sadly missed.

Rebecca Maslen-Stannage is a Sydney-based corporate partner with Herbert Smith Freehills.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

The ‘buybacks queen’ with a heart of gold
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...