Awards attract the best of the profession

By Justin Whealing|08 July 2014

A record number of entries has seen a diverse and talented array of finalists selected for the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards, proudly sponsored by Michael Page Legal.

A record number of entries has seen a diverse and talented array of finalists selected for the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards, proudly sponsored by Michael Page Legal.

After an extremely difficult selection process, Lawyers Weekly is delighted to announce the finalists for the 10 categories open to private practice firms and practitioners, as well as The Law Student Award, proudly sponsored by the College of Law.

“I was very excited to hear I was nominated as a finalist,” said Andrew Maynes (pictured right), one of two finalists from King & Wood Mallesons for The Senior Associate Award.


Andrew, who relocated to the firm’s Sydney office with his wife (also a lawyer at KWM) and two young children from Melbourne at the start of the year, is joined by his KWM colleague Daniel Natale as a finalist in what was one of the most popular categories on the Awards’ agenda.

Joining the KWM duo as finalists in this super-competitive category is Rohan Doyle from Herbert Smith Freehills, Liana Westcott from Sparke Helmore Lawyers and Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers Claire Schneider and Chris Mitchell.

“Partners deserve recognition, but at the end of the day a lot of the work gets done by senior associates and lawyers at the firms,” said Andrew, when asked why legal awards should recognise all levels of the profession.

The Young Gun Award and The Law Student Award, proudly sponsored by the College of Law, are the two other noteworthy categories that celebrate the work of lawyers in the early stages of their career.

In the Young Gun category, eligible to lawyers in their first three years of practice, Salvos Legal duo William Kontaxis and Elizabeth Lathlean join lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright, Baker & McKenzie, Mills Oakley Lawyers and KWM as finalists.



An Awards for all seasons

This year’s Awards program also features new team awards.

One of those new awards is The Boutique Law Firm of the Year.

This award recognises the growing importance and success of specialist firms.

“Talking to other managing partners and just seeing the fallout from some of the bigger firms, I think [the profession] will fragment and the mid-tier firms will struggle,” said Scott Kennedy (pictured below), the managing partner of Curwoods Lawyers.

Scott_Kennedy.pngThe insurance specialists are one of six finalists for The Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award.

In addition to seeking to move away from hourly billing, Curwoods also has a marked point of difference from other firms with initiatives such as its Artist-in-Residence program.

“That has become a key part of the culture of the firm,” said Scott when talking about what makes the firm tick. “It is not just about the work.”

In addition to Curwoods, the five other firms to be selected as finalists are Blue Rock Law, Holley Nethercote, Webb Henderson, Wotton + Kearney and the IP specialists Wrays.

The Law Firm of the Year Award, proudly sponsored by CTPartners, will be one of the evening’s blue-ribbon prizes.

This award, which recognises firms that combine superior client service with internal policies fostering an engaged workforce, attracted many respondents from across the legal spectrum.

The selected finalists include the leading global firms Herbert Smith Freehills and Squire Patton Boggs, the leading, but very different, national firms Gilbert + Tobin, Hall & Wilcox and Maurice Blackburn, as well as the rising star Salvos Legal.


Kings of the legal woodpile

King & Wood Mallesons were the best-performing law firm, with nine selected finalists. In addition to two finalists for The Senior Associate Award, KWM picked up multiple finalist nominations for The Transaction Team Award and The Partner Award, proudly sponsored by Dolman.

The senior KWM partners Mark McNamara and Susanne Hilliard join a stellar list of finalists in the latter category, including Simonetta Astolfi from Maddocks, Natalie Bannister from Hall & Wilcox, Jackie O’Brien from Norton Rose Fulbright and Karen Payne from Minter Ellison.

NRF performed admirably with eight finalists selected.

NRF managing partner Wayne Spanner is one of six well-credentialed contenders vying for The Managing Partner of the Year Award, proudly sponsored by Burrows Legal.

Chris Freeland, the head of Bakers, Gilbert + Tobin’s Danny Gilbert, Tony Macvean from Hall & Wilcox, John Nerurker from Mills Oakley and Squire Patton Boggs’ John Poulsen are the other impressive finalists.

Herbert Smith Freehills has seven finalists, including three contenders for The Dealmaker Award.

Former winners Tony Damian (2010), Rebecca Maslen-Stannage (2012) and Melbourne corporate head Michael Ziegelaar form half of the finalists in this category.

The other worthy finalists include 2011 Dealmaker winner Garry Besson; Nick Humphrey, the head of the corporate group at Sparke Helmore, and the leading private equity lawyer John Mann from K&L Gates.

G+T, Hall & Wilcox and Salvos all have four finalists. Ashurst, Bakers, Mills Oakley, Sparke Helmore and Minters each have two finalists.

A total of 27 law firms have finalists in the 11 categories open to the private practice sector. Geetha Nair from the Australian Government Solicitor is a finalist for The Pro Bono Award, proudly sponsored by Negocio Resolutions, with Rachel Lee from the University of Western Australia one of six finalists for The Law Student Award.

The other five finalists have all recently started placements at law firms.

Lawyers Weekly would like to sincerely thank all of the law firms and individuals that took the time to make a submission.

The selection of the finalists from such a high standard of submissions was an agonising task for the Lawyers Weekly editorial team.

The submissions of the selected finalists will be sent to an independent judging panel featuring leading members of the profession.

One winner will be selected for each category.

The finalists for The Senior Barrister Award; The Junior Barrister Award, proudly sponsored by Sheahan Lock Partners; The Corporate Counsel Award, and The In-House Team Award, proudly sponsored by, will be announced tomorrow.

The winners of the Michael Kirby Lifetime Achievement Award and The Advocate Award are selected by the Lawyers Weekly editorial team and will be announced at the Awards ceremony.

The Awards will be held at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel on Friday 8 August.

You can purchase tickets here.


The finalists in the 11 categories open to law firms at the 2014 Lawyers Weekly Law Awards, proudly sponsored by Michael Page Legal, are:


The Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award

Blue Rock Law

Curwoods Lawyers

Holley Nethercote

Webb Henderson

Wotton + Kearney



The Dealmaker Award

Garry Besson: Ashurst

Tony Damian: Herbert Smith Freehills

Nick Humphrey: Sparke Helmore

John Mann: K&L Gates

Rebecca Maslen-Stannage: Herbert Smith Freehills

Michael Ziegelaar: Herbert Smith Freehills


The Dispute Resolution Team Award

Gilbert + Tobin

Hall & Wilcox

Herbert Smith Freehills

King & Wood Mallesons

Norton Rose Fulbright

William Roberts Lawyers


The Law Firm of the Year Award, proudly sponsored by CTPartners

Gilbert + Tobin

Hall & Wilcox

Herbert Smith Freehills

Maurice Blackburn

Salvos Legal

Squire Patton Boggs


The Law Student Award, proudly sponsored by the College of Law

Tahlia Butler: MacDonnells Law

Eliza Egan: Norwicki Carbone Lawyers

Roxanne Hart: MacDonnells Law

Rachel Lee: University of WA

Brydon Wang: Allens

Genevieve Woods: Salvos Legal


The Managing Partner of the Year Award, proudly sponsored by Burrows Legal

Chris Freeland: Baker & McKenzie

Danny Gilbert: Gilbert + Tobin

Tony Macvean: Hall & Wilcox

John Nerurker: Mills Oakley

John Poulsen: Squire Patton Boggs

Wayne Spanner: Norton Rose Fulbright


The Partner Award, proudly sponsored by Dolman

Simonetta Astolfi: Maddocks

Natalie Bannister: Hall & Wilcox

Susan Hilliard: King & Wood Mallesons

Mark McNamara: King & Wood Mallesons

Jackie O’Brien: Norton Rose Fulbright

Karen Payne: Minter Ellison


The Pro Bono Award, proudly sponsored by Negocio Resolutions, founded by Steve Lancken

Liam Burgess: King & Wood Mallesons

Michael do Rozario: Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Scott McDonald: DLA Piper

Mia Matic: Norton Rose Fulbright

Geetha Nair: Australian Government Solicitor

Albert Yuen: Gilbert + Tobin


The Senior Associate Award

Rohan Doyle: Herbert Smith Freehills

Andrew Maynes: King & Wood Mallesons

Chris Mitchell: Norton Rose Fulbright

Daniel Natale: King & Wood Mallesons

Claire Schneider: Norton Rose Fulbright

Liana Westcott: Sparke Helmore Lawyers


The Transaction Team Award

Ashurst: Westfield Retail Trust’s merger with Westfield Group’s Australian and New Zealand Business

Herbert Smith Freehills: M&A Team

King & Wood Mallesons: M&A Team

King & Wood Mallesons: Establishment of the Australian Clearing House for OTC Derivatives

Minter Ellison: Restructure and Refinancing of the Port of Newcastle

Norton Rose Fulbright: Baytex’s acquisition of Aurora Oil & Gas


The Young Gun Award

Kate Barry: Mills Oakley Lawyers

Arjuna Dibley: Baker & McKenzie

William Kontaxis: Salvos Legal

Elizabeth Lathlean: Salvos Legal

Luke Hawthorne: Norton Rose Fulbright

Rebecca Petrie: King & Wood Mallesons

Awards attract the best of the profession
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