PETER CAILLARD, general counsel and company secretary of Tabcorp Holdings, carried off the award for Australian Corporate Lawyer of the Year 2004 at the Australian In-house Lawyer of the Year Awards, held last Friday 19 November in Canberra.
The award for Australian Government Lawyer of the Year went to Celia Gerreyn, general counsel and board secretary of vicUrban (the recently established sustainable urban development agency of the Victorian State Government).
Nick Macdonald, senior corporate counsel at Australia Post, was named Australian In-house Lawyer Young Achiever of the Year.
Following his success, Macdonald told Lawyers Weekly that he was relatively new to the profession of in-house lawyer, having moved from private practice three years ago. Since then he has faced a steep learning curve, he said, due to Australia Post having a “diverse and complicated business” that encompasses mail, parcels and logistics, as well as retail and financial services.
Asked what it takes to win an accolade such as this, Macdonald said that a talented in-house lawyer must have “just the right mix of academic excellence, technical ability, commercial acumen and management skills”.
“To really thrive requires a professional and supportive work environment and intellectually engaging work, tackled with energy, dedication and tenacity.”
But Macdonald attributed his success primarily to the support and encouragement he had received from the company’s general counsel and from his colleagues in the legal team.
As well, he said he had been fortunate to work on challenging commercial transactions and disputes, including being the principal in-house legal adviser in the establishment of a logistics joint venture in China. He said despite the hard work it has been very rewarding.
Macdonald, who was appointed as senior associate less than four years after being admitted, now leads a team of three professionals and is a member of the Australia Post legal services group management team, following his promotion to senior corporate counsel in July 2003.
Caillard recently led the $1.7 billion takeover of Jupiters Ltd and the $2.3 billion takeover of TAB Ltd — two of the top five M&As in Australia. He was also responsible for Tabcorp’s recent takeover of Star City Holdings.
Gerreyn, a qualified accountant and solicitor specialising in major projects, provided legal services in the redevelopment of the Melbourne docklands, Victoria’s largest ever public/private partnership and Australia’s largest construction project.
The event was organised by the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and awards were presented to winners at ACLA’s Annual Dinner at Old Parliament House, Canberra.