Lead contenders heading for home

IT’S about the half-way mark in the Legal Elite voting and we are starting to see the top of several league tables take shape.

 It is good to note quite a few senior partners casting their votes (even though it’s all equal here in this democracy) as well as the first smattering of votes from WA’s corporate lawyers.

And while there is plenty of tussling for the top spots, no-one has a mortgage on anything at this stage.  There are plenty of unnamed lawyers who would only be a few votes behind the leaders.

One battle we’ve yet to report on was the mergers and acquisitions category, in which there has been a lively contest for the past few weeks.

It has been difficult to separate the various contenders until this week, when a handful of votes for Leigh Warnick at Mallesons Stephen Jaques helped him edge ahead of a pack that includes some of his colleagues. Probably his nearest rival is Rob Franklyn from Freehills, while Stephen Cole at Allens Arthur Robinson has also found some support. With lawyers from Blakiston & Crabb taking votes off each other they may wish we had a preferential voting system rather than first-past-the-post.

In the banking and finance category, John Carson of Blake Dawson Waldron has slipped into the lead amid thin voting.

A bit hectic is the commercial litigation category, where the votes are widely spread across a big field of contenders. This may well be one category decided by the in-house votes if no-one can muster more concerted support from outside their own firms.

Votes for intellectual property lawyers have also been thin. Deacons’ Chris Hewitt has earned the most consistent support and he is probably the strongest contender at this stage.

Michael Hardy from Hardy Bowen has held his lead in the regulation, environment and planning category. Lee Christensen of Tottle Christensen still heads insolvency but his lead has weakened, as has KPMG Legal’s Ted Sharpe’s hold on the top property and construction spot.

And was it a mention in our editorial last week about Wayne Martin QC coming back to speak in Perth about the HIH Royal Commission that sparked a wave of support for this respected barrister?

Mr Martin now stands out above a widely spread field with, perhaps, his closest rival being Christopher Zelestis QC.

Qualified WA lawyers who cast  their vote in the Legal Elite by April 10 will go into a draw for dinner for two valued up to $150 at any of the Hyatt Regency’s restaurants.

Entry forms can be downloaded  at and faxed back to 9227 6503.

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