GILBERT + TOBIN was named the Asia Pacific Firm of the Year at the 2008 Legal Business Awards held in London recently, knocking out not only its Australian rivals, but also the US and UK firms operating in the region.
The Sydney based firm, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year, has been involved in number of high profile matters in Australia in 2007, perhaps the most notable being the representation of PBL and the Nine Network Australia in the C7 dispute over pay TV sports rights.
The firm’s also been busy building its presence in Asia, and late last year announced that it had formed an alliance with one of China’s largest firms, King & Wood.
However, according to managing partner, Danny Gilbert, the firm has been active in Asia for significantly longer. “Our work in Asia in communications and technology stems back 15 years now. We have a number of partners who fly in and out of Asia all the time and we’ve had partners permanently stationed in Hong Kong for five or six years,” he said.
The work through the alliance to date has been primarily in the competition and telecommunications areas, and has included advising the Hong Kong government on its new competition law regime, areas that Gilbert believes will continue to grow.
“It’s pretty early days yet, but there would currently be around half a dozen lawyers involved at various times in the competition law work and another couple of lawyers doing the telecommunications work. And I think there’s going to be growing work in those areas as their markets deregulate,” Gilbert said.
“The plan is to second lawyers and partners backward and forward between the two firms as we start to get to know each other and start working together.”
Other work the firm has been involved in the Asia Pacific region includes advising on development projects with a range of countries for the World Bank and helping to establish Vanuatu’s independent regulatory authority for electricity, water and telecommunications.
Among the other winners on the night was global legal giant Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which picked up the coveted law firm of the year award.