2018: Leading Firms

In our second edition of WWL: Australia, we feature 197 firms, from full-service international outfits to specialised boutiques. However, over half of the total listings come from just 10 standout firms, which we profile here.

Total number of listings: 67

Allens is an international commercial law firm with offices spanning key markets in Australia and South East Asia. It boasts a full-service offering, and its international force is backed by its integrated alliance with Linklaters, which extends Allens’ network of offices to a further 27 locations around the world.

The firm is widely recognised as one of the leading firms in the Australian market, as illustrated by the 67 listings it gathers in this year’s research. It boasts a strong corporate practice and is among the top players in the country for M&A and governance work, and corporate tax advice.

The firm also showcases its outstanding sector-related expertise this year. It houses a strong data team and a leading energy and mining group which achieve four and five nominations respectively in our corresponding chapters. The banking practice also performs well in this year’s research with five standout lawyers recognised for their excellent work providing first-rate transactional and commercial counsel to major financial institutions.

Eminent individuals at the firm include John Greig, a leading name in the energy market, and Guy Foster, who is recognised as a top-tier litigator. Standout practitioners in the firm’s IP practice include Sarah Matheson, a highly regarded patents lawyer, and Tim Golder, a leading expert in trademarks matters.


Total number of listings: 54

Ashurst is a highly visible and long-standing fixture within the Australian market. Since it was founded over 175 years ago, this international powerhouse has grown to house more than 160 partners across five offices, including some of the best-recognised legal experts in the country. In our research this year, the firm receives 54 nominations across 23 practice areas, illustrating the breadth of expertise on offer. It performs particularly well in our banking chapter with an impressive eight listings; and also in the energy, natural resources and mining sector, with four nominations, reflecting its historic position as a major player in this field.

Top names at the firm include Shawn Wytenburg from the banking group, who is regarded by sources as one of the top names in the country; and Peter Armitage of the competition law practice, who is also recognised for his top-tier practice.


Total number of listings: 25

Full-service international powerhouse Baker McKenzie holds a strong position in the Australian market and demonstrates its leading presence in this edition. It achieves 25 nominations across 14 practice areas, with lawyers from its Sydney and Melbourne offices featured.

The firm performs particularly well in the construction and infrastructure space, receiving nominations across our construction and government contracts chapters. The group is well versed in handling both domestic and international projects as well as complex regulatory issues.

Its sector-specific expertise is also reflected in this year’s research, as leading lawyers from the firm are recognised for their excellence in energy and natural resources, environmental, data and banking law.

Standout individuals at the firm include Penny Ward, who wins praise for her top-tier franchise practice, and Martijn Wilder AM, who stands out as one of the foremost climate change experts in the country. Patrick Fair is highlighted as a market-leading data lawyer while Paul Curnow is recognised for his strong environmental law expertise.


Total number of listings: 84

Clayton Utz is a leading firm in this year’s research and achieves an impressive 84 listings from its six Australian offices. It is a go-to outfit among Australian clients and foreign entities operating in the market, and is widely respected for its strong capabilities for cross-border commercial transactions. 

The firm has a full-service offering and boasts listings across 21 practice areas in our research this year. It is among the leading firms for corporate deals, achieving eight nominations in our M&A and Corporate Governance chapter, and tops this year’s research for government contracts work.

With six listed lawyers, the energy, natural resources and mining group performs well and ranks among the top players in the market, while the firm’s environment and climate group achieves a further five listings. It is also home to a market-leading life sciences practice, where it achieves more listings than any other firm.

Standout individuals include Colin Loveday, an eminent litigator and Thought Leader in the product liability space, and Michael Corrigan, a revered competition lawyer. The life sciences practice is home to three of the “most highly regarded” practitioners in this year’s research. Greg Williams is a top name in Sydney, while Andrew Morrison is a go-to life sciences lawyer in Melbourne. Mary Still is a highly regarded trademarks lawyer and Stuart Byrne is well known for his strong expertise in capital markets.


Total number of listings: 36

Corrs Chambers Westgarth is a first-rate independent law firm with a strong position in the Australian market. It achieves 36 listings spanning 17 practice areas in this year’s research, recognising the impressive breadth of experience across its full-service offering.

With four offices in Australia, the firm serves market-leading clients on deals, operations and disputes. It has an additional office in Papua New Guinea and its strong connections in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide enable it to provide a comprehensive international offering. 

Corrs Chambers Westgarth is among the most dominant players in the construction market which is reflected in our research as it ranks among the leading firms in this edition. Its lawyers are well equipped to advise clients on a range of sector-related matters including infrastructure projects, financings, contracts and disputes. It also performs well in the trademarks space and sees five lawyers recognised for their excellence in the field.

Leading individuals at the firm include Stephen Stern, a prominent figure in the firm’s trademarks group. Odette Gourley excels in the life sciences market, while John Tuck is well known as a top lawyer for labour and employment matters. Andrew Stephenson is a star practitioner in the construction sector, and Philip Catania is a market leader on IT matters.


Total number of listings: 34

Gilbert + Tobin is a leading independent law firm and is a destination for major corporate clients and governments throughout Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region. Since it was founded in 1988 the firm has grown to house more than 600 professionals, spread across its offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Its strong position in the market is illustrated in our research this year, which sees the firm secure an impressive 34 listings across 10 practice areas this year.

The firm stands out for its strength in corporate law and data matters, achieving six nominations in these chapters, and also performs well in our competition law section, where five leading practitioners are highlighted.

Performing particularly well in our research are Luke Woodward and Elizabeth Avery, who rank as the most highly regarded individuals in the country for competition law. Meanwhile, leader of the firm’s technology and digital group Sheila McGregor also draws high praise and ranks prominently in our data chapter.

Other standout names at the firm include John Schembri and Gail Christopher, who gain recognition for their outstanding expertise handling financial matters, and Chris Flynn who is recognised for his first-rate practice in the field of energy and natural resources. Simon Lynch also impresses and thanks to his wide-ranging expertise, receives plaudits for his superb work in the fields of banking, project finance and restructuring and insolvency.


Total number of listings: 63

Herbert Smith Freehills is one of the world’s top commercial law firms, and once again showcases its prominent position in the Australian legal market in our research. The firm boasts an impressive 64 listings in this edition, which span across 21 practice areas. The firm possesses a strong global footprint and is frequently engaged by multinational corporations to advise on many of Australia’s most sophisticated and high-profile matters.

Members of the firm are widely recognised for their top-tier corporate finance expertise, as it achieves an impressive number of listings across our corporate, banking and capital markets chapters.

The firm also stands out for its notable sector-related offering, particularly in the energy, natural resources and mining space where two standout names at the firm are placed among the highest-ranking individuals in our corresponding chapter. Environmental law is another area in which the firm excels, while it is also recognised for its strong offering in the labour and employment market.

The firm is home to many of the key names in the Australian market, including Grant Marjoribanks who ranks as a leading lawyer in the business crime space, and Philippa Stone who is internationally recognised for her expertise handling a wide range of corporate matters. Other prominent individuals at the firm include Michael Ziegelaar and Tim McEwen for their strength in the capital markets arena, and Stuart Barrymore who stands out for his skill handling complex mandates across the mining and energy sectors.


Total number of listings: 84

Full-service global firm King & Wood Mallesons is a prominent presence across the Asia-Pacific region and in the Australian market. This is illustrated in our research this year as the firm achieves 84 listings across 22 practice areas, highlighting the great breadth and depth of expertise on offer. In this edition we recognise standout practitioners from its offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, showcasing its strong footprint across the domestic market.

Corporate finance is an area in which the firm particularly excels and boasts a leading reputation. This is demonstrated in our research with the banking and capital markets teams achieving 13 and 11 nominations respectively. The firm stands out as the foremost offering in the country across both practice areas, with lawyers well equipped to advise clients on a range of matters including securities transactions, restructurings and complex financings.

King & Wood Mallesons is also recognised for its impressive sector-related expertise, most notably in the energy and natural resources space where it sees six lawyers nominated for inclusion this year. It also receives nominations across our data, environment, aviation and life sciences chapters.

Key individuals at the firm include Yuen-Yee Cho and Peter Doyle who stand out as Thought Leaders in the banking arena. Shannon Finch is a leading name in the capital markets space while Stuart Dixon-Smith and Andrew Erikson are recognised for their outstanding work in real estate matters. Louis Chiam draws high praise as a top energy specialist and David Friedlander is one of the pre-eminent corporate lawyers in the country.


Total number of listings: 48

Australian-headquartered international powerhouse MinterEllison is a well-established firm and a dominant force in the legal market. By number, the firm is the largest legal services provider in Australia and its offices in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide are home to some of the country’s top talent. Our research this year sees members of the firm recommended across 17 practice areas, particularly in the fields of banking, competition and labour law.

Among the leading practitioners identified are Geoff Carter from the firm’s competition law group,  and John Mosley, whose listing in our banking chapter this year reflects his position as a continued favourite among sources. The firm is also home to some of the leading names in the labour, employment and benefits market, including Dan Williams and Jim Fox who both receive high praise from commentators for their deep expertise.


Total number of listings: 35

Norton Rose Fulbright is a leading global firm with offices across 33 jurisdictions. It maintains its impressive reputation in the Australian market, with 35 outstanding individuals listed in our guide this year. The firm is considered a leading full-service law firm in the region, illustrated by its strong performance across 16 chapters in our guide and is once again highlighted for its prowess in construction; environment and climate change; and restructuring and insolvency.

The firm is home to a number of top names in the jurisdiction. At the firm’s environment department, Elizabeth Wild and Nick Brunton both remain favourites thanks to the depth of their expertise. Scott Atkins also receives strong praise from respondents this year for his excellent work in assisting borrowers and lenders with an array of restructuring and insolvency matters.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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