Dispute resolution and litigation is one of 21 practice area-based categories in the inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
The category has 12 finalists, six men and six women, who hail from global, national and boutique firms alike, proving that dispute resolution partners succeed at all firm types.
Finalists representing the global firms are Herbert Smith Freehills partners Bronwyn Lincoln, Elizabeth Macknay and Jason Betts, and Allens partner Belinda Thompson.
Ms Lincoln has a focus on international commercial arbitration and litigation and private international law, while Ms Macknay is the lead partner in HSF’s Perth disputes team for corporations law and corporate regulatory matters, corporate crime and investigations and domestic and international arbitrations. Mr Betts has been a HSF partner for six years, but has 17 years' experience as a class action specialist and defence lawyer.
Ms Thompson works part time, four days a week, specialising in class actions, contractual disputes, product liability issues, constitutional law and defamation.
Finalists hailing from national firms are Gilbert + Tobin partner Colleen Platford, Clayton Utz partner Dr Ashley Tsacalos, Gadens partner John Dalzell, Landers & Rogers partner Genevieve Collins and Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Frances Williams.
Ms Platford is known for promoting flexible work arrangements for female lawyers, and was named Partner of the Year at the 2015 Women in Law Awards.
Dr Tsacalos recently left Norton Rose Fulbright in favour of national firm Clayton Utz, while Mr Dalzell was one of the four key negotiators in Gadens’ decision to merge with global firm Dentons.
Ms Collins has been a Lander & Rogers partner since 1991 and practice group leader of the firm's compensation law practice since 1 July 2005, while Mr Williams has almost 20 years' experience working on a mix of large scale construction disputes and regulatory work.
Finalists from boutique firms are William Roberts Lawyers principal Robert Ishak, Coleman Greig Lawyers principal and team leader Caroline Hutchinson and McCabes Lawyers principal Andrew Lacey.
Mr Ishak is the co-founder, principal and chairman of William Roberts Lawyers and regularly acts for and advises institutions in relation to general insurance in the law of fraud and indemnity, life insurance, general commercial litigation, class actions, trade practices, corporations law and contract law.
Ms Hutchinson is the head of Coleman Greig's litigation and dispute resolution team and is an accredited specialist in commercial litigation. She regularly acts for clients in the Federal Court of Australia, Supreme Courts of NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and the Dust Diseases Tribunal.
In his submission, Mr Lacey said: “I believe that leaders need to be down in the trenches with everyone else. I lead by example, set tough but fair goals and invest time and energy to develop my team.”
High-profile judges will select the winners, including Law Council of Australia past-president Duncan McConnel, Supreme Court of NSW and Court of Appeal president Justice Margaret Beazley AO and NSW Crown Solicitor Lea Armstrong.
Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala on 28 April at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth – tickets on sale now.