GADENS LAWYERS late last year pulled off a major recruitment coup that marks the start of a plan to further expand the firm’s energy and resources practice.
The hiring of former Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Clayton Utz top energy projects specialist Susan O’Rourke as partner at Gadens’ Sydney office is a major step forward for the firm, Gadens said.
Managing partner Michael Bradley told Lawyers Weekly the hire represented the firm’s plan to further strengthen the practice.
Gadens’ Papua New Guinea (PNG) office will be a key asset in the expansion, Bradley said. O’Rourke’s appointment, and particularly her work through that office, will provide an “enormous boost” to the firm’s already strong position in the resources industry, he added.
A lot of resources have been pumped into PNG, and as the office develops, the firm will be expecting much more from it.
Aid, as well, will influence this process, Bradley said. “We expect the PNG economy to start to boom, but we’ve been there 35 years and now we’ll be investing heavily in it.”
The firm has “several huge energy projects likely to emanate from PNG in the next few years,” including the planned gas pipeline to Australia. O’Rourke has been involved in this project as well as with associated liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.
The Port Moresby office, which opened in 1969, has been an integral part of Gadens’ success. The office comprises 13 lawyers, including senior partner and national equity partner Winifred Kamit, as well as partner Erik Andersen, both of whom have considerable experience in handling matters involving PNG government and industry issues.
O’Rourke plans to run a regional energy practice out of the firm’s Sydney office, acting for an international client base of Japanese, US and Middle Eastern investors that she developed while working in Asia. Transactions will take place in Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, the Timor Sea, Victoria, PNG, Indonesia and China.
Australasia’s energy and resources assets are increasingly owned and operated on a regional basis, and Gadens has flagged itself as unique in the firm’s ability to offer Australian, UK and PNG legal advice.
O’Rourke’s experience is predominantly in large and complex cross-border transactions. She is pre-eminent in oil and gas, petrochemicals, pipeline and LNG project work and as such, she is a great asset to the firm, Bradley told Lawyers Weekly.
In 2002, O’Rourke was recognised by Asia Law & Practice as leading lawyer in project finance.
She moved to Gadens because of the firm’s “outstanding niche practice in energy and resources”. She saw the firm as offering her the opportunity to help it build and grow on its already strong foundation.