Employment - Australia
THE FIRM Ashurst is regularly identified as having one of the best employment teams, with 16 employment partners in its six Australian offices. The group handles all aspects of employment and industrial relations law, and energy and resources companies are particularly well represented on its impressive client roster. It recently successfully acted for Woodside in the Federal Court in its long-running dispute with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union concerning industrial action at the Pluto LNG plant. The team was also co-counsel to Qantas in its much-publicised confrontation with the Transport Workers' Union, and acted for the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance on the bargaining dispute at its Queensland coal mines.
Sources say: "I find them highly credible and highly competent. They're proactive and cost-conscious, and understand our strategy, internal issues and personalities: an excellent partnership."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Helen McKenzie is a former head of the employment group and a current deputy managing partner of Ashurst Australia. She continues to be regarded as "an outstanding individual" in the practice area, particularly in matters of workplace restructuring or employment issues affecting the airline industry.
Melbourne-based Richard Bunting heads the practice. He is described as "a genuinely excellent practitioner," and is particularly well known as a skilled litigator and a thoroughly dependable adviser on industrial relations strategy.
According to satisfied clients Adrian Morris is "very good in the space; he knows our industry well, and I've a lot of confidence in him." He is noted for his rich experience in strategic planning and change management issues, and is particularly adept at advising clients in the construction, manufacturing, resources and transport industries.
Interviewees praise Steven Amendola as "a very bright guy with a very good understanding of the environment he works in." "You won't find anyone better than Steven," said one interviewee. He is especially recommended for matters requiring litigation, and recently acted for Airservices Australia in Federal Court proceedings involving allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment.
Ian Humphreys is renowned as "a really good operator across the board" with an unrivalled knowledge of Queensland employment law, and is also highlighted as "one of the best health and safety lawyers" in the country. He acted as lead partner in the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance matter.
Robert Lilburne is described as "an excellent, standout practitioner in the Perth market," where sources say "a lot of people won't act before talking to Rob." He is particularly adept at advising leading energy and resources companies on health and safety matters or those involving major incidents.
Perth-based David Parker specialises in advising companies on managing industrial disputes, developing large projects or restructuring their businesses. He led on the Pluto LNG matter. Clients value his "timely, cost-efficient and on-point advice," and that he "delivers excellent outcomes on a consistent basis."
Stephen Woodbury was recently involved in one of the first tests of Fair Work Australia's enterprise bargaining system, assisting TNT in its dealings with the tribunal and with its overall industrial relations strategy. His ability to produce "cogent, reasonable work" in "very time-constrained situations" is highly valued.
Rachel Bernasconi is described as "an excellent lawyer who gives digestible advice in a practical and structured form that a lay person can understand." She commands growing respect amongst her fellow Sydney lawyers and recently acted as lead partner in the Qantas matter.
Stephen Nettleton specialises in industrial relations and health and safety issues. Clients characterise him as "a leader in his field with an exceptional understanding of the law," and particularly recommend him for matters involving workplace incidents.
Lea Constantine leads Ashurst's national safety team and is described as "an expert of very long standing in occupational health and safety and a trusted adviser to many clients."
"Impressive rising star" Michael Tamvakologos has a comprehensive grasp of both employment and industrial relations law, with a close focus on contentious matters. He has recently acted for Telstra in a number of Fair Work Australia proceedings concerning its application to discontinue 11 enterprise awards.