The 38 trailblazing lawyers changing the industry now
Who’s on the big deals? Who’s the talk of the town? NZ Lawyer
presents an inside look at the hottest private practice
lawyers in the New Zealand market
Legal practice is a game of mixed fortunes. In the deal environment, every year produces a series of winners and losers as certain lawyers and firms secure the most envied roles on the top deals.
What we seek to achieve in this feature is to take the pulse of the industry and discover which lawyers are being talked about by their peers. We will be taking a close look at the roles on the NZ Government’s mixed-ownership model, which has particularly dominated the deal landscape of late, and we will also identify lawyers who have come a long way in establishing a ‘personal brand’ for themselves. We’ll also be taking a look at nontransactional areas and noteworthy achievements in community and pro bono work.
First, a cautionary note. Being included in a listing such as this is a significant achievement, but we should remind ourselves that there are many lawyers who are worthy of accolades but for one reason or another have never received one.
So, in compiling this list of New Zealand’s hottest lawyers, we do so with a level of caution and respect for those lawyers who are not on the list. No industry survey can ever be entirely comprehensive in its listing of meritorious lawyers, and we do not purport to be exhaustive in our showcase of legal talent.
The selection of lawyers for this feature was based on submissions received from firms and, for the dealmaker sections, off-record interviews in which respondents were asked to nominate lawyers they respected not only within their own firms but also at rival organisations.
The opportunity to make submissions for this feature was also advertised on the NZ Lawyer
IT’S COMMERCIAL, STUPID
A familiar quality ascribed to corporate lawyers is their ‘commerciality’, something generally understood to be a desirable trait. We were thus intrigued when a source for this feature commented that a dealmaker was “commercial, and in a positive way”.
“It’s a compliment,” the source said. We then asked in what context being described as commercial would not be a compliment for a corporate lawyer. It turns out that, in some circles, describing a lawyer as “commercial” is a euphemism for “not keen on technical detail” or “trampling over the finer points of a transaction”. With this in mind, we adjusted our interview methodology to eliminate any possibility of firms slipping backhanded compliments about their competitors into the mix. ‘Commercial’ has no ulterior meaning as used in this feature.
Lawyers who headlined the deals environment following the partial privatisation of strategic government assets The NZ government’s Mixed Ownership Model or partial privatisation of key assets has certainly given the deals environment a much-needed jolt. Four asset selldowns have either already occurred or are currently in train: energy companies Meridian, Mighty River Power and Genesis, and national carrier Air New Zealand. In this section, we acknowledge some of the firms and lawyers who played key roles in these significant deals. Please note the listing of lawyers is not exhaustive – not all lawyers on these deals were included and some appear in other sections of this feature.
THE LAWYER BRANDS
The pros so synonymous with big deals in their firms that they’ve become powerful personal brands in their own right
It’s a tough life running the marketing function of a top-flight corporate law firm. In theory at least the firm is a team; a collective in which the effort and kudos are shared in equal measure among the partners. The reality, however, can be somewhat different – every firm has a heavyweight dealmaker who is synonymous with that firm and seems to appear on all the significant deals. We asked the firms to nominate who they thought were the heavyweights at their competitors, and there was a notable consistency in the names that were proffered. Here’s what they had to say.
Lawyers who have recently enjoyed notable and defining moments in their careers
In this section, we pay tribute to the lawyers who have particular reasons to remember 2014 as a key point in their professional careers. The reasons may be obvious – for example, a significant anniversary – or more subtle, such as a coming of age in the eyes of the market; a sudden purple patch on the deals front; or overcoming a hurdle to success.
PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY
Recognising lawyers who made significant contributions to good causes
Thousands of hours are donated every year by New Zealand lawyers to good causes: from heritage conservation to community legal advice to the celebration of diversity. These lawyers get involved in such work because of a personal engagement with their cause. They’re not out to seek publicity, but just this once we’re going to put some of them in the spotlight and recognise their efforts.
To view the complete feature on PDF, please click on NZ Lawyer Hotlist 2014