Among Australia’s most powerful lawyers, a LawFuel Power Selection of some of the most prominent –
Professor Allan Herbert Miller Fels AO is regarded as the country’s leading regulator. An Australian economist, lawyer and public servant he is best known for his job as chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from its inception in 1995 until 30 June 2003.
The ACCC regulates competition and consumer law as well as public utitilities. Allan Fels has also filled a number of other regulatory roles and is highly regarded for his work in the area.
He was and remains a household name and was ranked by The Australian Financial Review as Australia’s third most powerful figure in 2002; he is the subject of the biography Allan Fels, A Portrait of Power, by Fred Brenchley (John Wiley Publishers, 2003).
George Brandis QC
Australian Attorney General George Brandis has become something of a controversial figure with recent attacks from the Australian Lawyers Alliance criticising his “gross infringement” of his instruction to the Solicitor General to obtain his consent before providing legal advice.
A Queenslander who built a lucrative practice in trade practice law and related area, he is a Liberal senator who became Attorney General in 2013 and has become involved in various controversial issues relating to press freedom, East Timor spying and other matters.
Sydney silk Bret Walker has one of the highest profile and most powerful roles in both Sydney and Australia generally.
Smart and respected, he continues to handle an array of clients, particularly specialising in High Court work, however he also receives government briefs such as his report into the London Olympics swimming campaign and more recently as the first independent monitor of national security legislation.
Michael Donald Kirby AC, CMG is something of a darling of both the Australian and New Zealand legal communities. Both a jurist and academic who is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, (1996 to 2009) he continues to remain a powerful force in the law and related issues since his retirement.
He has remained active in retirement: in May 2013 he was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead an inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, which reported in February 2014.
Julian Burnside QC
Julian William Kennedy Burnside AO QC is one of Australia’s most successful and well known barristers, but it was a New Zealand lawyer who encouraged him to enter the law – and his “most fun” job was working at KFC as a cook (“”My perfect meal is KFC and McDonald’s chips,” he says. “McDonald’s do a far superior french fry to KFC.”)
Best known now as a prominent human rights and refugee advocate, and author and blogger
, he practices principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law. He has made a lot of money working also the “big egoed” end of town, but his passion is for human rights issues.
Julian Burnside’s career was set to become one of management consulting until New Zealand then Chief Justice, Sir Richard Wild QC advised him to enter the bar after winning an Australian-New Zealand intra-varsity mooting competition.
As he told the SMH
: “He was the most important person I’d ever met,” said Burnside, “so I thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll do what he says’. It occurred to me recently, wouldn’t it be funny if what he really meant was ‘Go and get another glass of wine’. My whole career could be founded on a misunderstanding.”
Margaret Cunneen SC
Barrister and prosecutor Margaret Cunneen is Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor in the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
She rose to prominence when she lead the prosecution of a number of highly publicised pedophiles
and several notable gang rape
and murder trials. She has also lectured in child abuse and neglect and was appointed Senior Council and amember of the NSW Bar Council in 2014.
She was also involved in a controversial public fight with the ICAC in respect of charges of allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice
following a car crash involving herself, her son and her son’s girlfriend, but it appears to have done little to dim Ms Cunneen’s status as a legal star.
Clayton Utz partner heads Law Council of Australia, the “pre-eminent voice of Australia’s 65,000 lawyers” and thus retains a top spot as one of the country’s most powerful lawyers.
His corrective measure, of moving the Left-leaning organisation into more the centre ground was a prime reason for his assuming the top position in Jaunary 2016 in order to make sure more people listened to the messages put out by the LCA and to make it more relevant.
“The organisation didn’t know how to engage politically. We need to become more balanced and pragmatic in our approach.
“We needed to stop regurgitating the same thing over and over again and churning press releases which ended up in bins in newsrooms across the country,” he told The Australian.
Robert Richter QC
Robert Richter QC has developed a strong reputation as one of Australia’s most prominent barristers, particularly in relation to civil liberties and related issues.
Born in Kyrgzstan and living in Israel befor his family emigrated to Australia in 1959, he has developed a colourful and successful practice.
His clients have ranged from former Elders IXL boss John Elliott in respect of the Equiticorp transaction to underworld boss Nick Gatto, who he successfully defended for a ‘hit’ on a rival on the basis that it was self defence.
Ian Temby QC
Ian Douglas Temby AO, QC is an Australian barrister. He was the first Commonwealth
Director of Public Prosecutions, the first Commissioner of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption and also a former royal commissioner.
In early 2015 he made headlines with his defence of Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson who face sex abuse coverup charges.
Friends, colleagues and opponents of the barrister have described him as a “living legend” with an extraordinary attention to detail, but as someone who also commands a presence in court that is regarded by some as enough to sway cases his client’s way.
Ian Temby was educated in Perth, he became a solicitor in 1964 and joined the forerunner to what is now known as Minter Ellison, before co-founding the local Legal Advice Bureau in 1972.
He went to the WA bar in 1978 and was made Queen’s Counsel two years later. He was deputy mayor of Subiaco council in 1982-83.
He became the country’s top prosecutor in 1984 before being appointed founding NSW ICAC Commissioner five years later, whose big scalp included former state Premier Nick Greiner.
Having been the first woman in a century to lead Allens, Fiona Crosbie already comes with a reputation as one of the country’s top competition lawyers.
Taking over from Richard Spurio she heads the Law Council’s competition and consumer committee and said that she often brings her “competition lens” to the legal market and
Jennifer Batrouney QC
A highly regarded advocate, Jennifer Batrouney is the newly elected president of the
Victorian Bar and has extensive experience before all the major courts for her tax specialty and related areas.
Fifteen years a silk, she has a range of high-value individual clients and corporates, as well as vast experience advising on State and federal taxes and has served on various consultancy panels as well as a director of the Law Council of Australia.
Known for her collaborative approach to tax and related litigation and consultancy work, she has established herself as a powerful figure in Australian law.