Media Release: Clayton Utz announces 1 January 2021 partner appointments

11 Dec 2020

11 December 2020: Clayton Utz will have eight new partners from 1 January 2021, all vertical promotions.

Chief Executive Partner Bruce Cooper said:

It's a pleasure to welcome John, Chris, James, Adrian, Kate, Hilary, Natalie and Mihkel to the partnership. Each has built a long-term career with us and has demonstrated the qualities for which we want our partners to be known: not only legal smarts but commercial savvy, resilience, and the ability to provide advice that shows they see through the client's lens and understand the bigger picture.

The new partners are (in alphabetical order):

John Dieckmann 

John Dieckmann, Intellectual Property and Technology, Melbourne

John holds dual qualifications in law and IT. As a technology lawyer, his practice spans complex technology procurement, the IP and technology aspects of major commercial transactions and infrastructure projects, data security and privacy issues.  Besides further technology-based business transformation, he sees cyber security and how businesses shore up their defences as a continuing area of focus throughout 2021, as well as how they capture, analyse, preserve and maximise the value of their digital assets.

Chris Erfurt 

Chris Erfurt, Commercial Litigation, Brisbane

Chris is a litigator who acts for commercial and government clients in a wide range of areas, including insurance and indemnity, consumer remediation, environment, and commercial civil litigation and regulatory and white-collar crime, as well as other complex disputes and insurance advice.  He recently secured a significant success for insureds in the first test case in Australia on business interruption insurance for COVID-19, and expects those claims and other insurance and regulatory disputes to remain in focus in 2021. 


James Kendal, Major Projects and Construction, Canberra

James advises clients in industries including aviation and airports, government, statutory corporations and construction, with a focus on the front-end of major projects & construction for light rail, airport infrastructure, major roads and rail projects. He expects to see a focus in 2021 on new approaches in the way major infrastructure projects are structured and delivered, in response to market challenges and various Government stimulus packages.

Adrian Kuti 

Adrian Kuti, Competition, Sydney

Adrian has practised in the national Competition team since 2008 and has a broad regulatory practice spanning competition and consumer law, as well as telecommunications, radiocommunications, franchising and automotive regulatory issues. He is respected as an adviser to large corporate and government business enterprises in the retail, automotive, technology, telecommunications and finance sectors, in particular, and has a keen interest in the evolving application of traditional regulatory frameworks to new technologies. He anticipates a continued heightened environment for regulatory activity in 2021, leading to further investigations and enforcement actions.


Kate O'Donovan, Banking and Financial Services, Sydney

Kate specialises in leveraged finance and corporate finance transactions, and acts for major banks, credit funds and alternative debt financiers, as well as private equity firms and listed and unlisted corporates. Kate says it's an exciting time to be a leveraged finance lawyer in an environment of record low interest rates and high liquidity in the private equity space, as well as increased regulatory challenges (such as the imminent replacement of LIBOR with risk-free rates and changes to FIRB regulations). 

Hilary Searing 

Hilary Searing, Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety, Brisbane

Hilary advises both corporate and public sector clients on work health and safety, industrial relations and employment law, and is known for her approachability and commercial focus. She has managed high-profile disputes, and is regularly called upon by clients to provide advice in real-time on their response to workplace safety incidents. In 2021, she anticipates an increased focus on what is appropriate contractor management from a safety perspective and on psychosocial hazards in the workplace. 


Natalie Speranza, Major Projects and Construction, Melbourne

Natalie advises government clients on complex procurements in the transportation and social infrastructure sectors, with particular experience in performance-based availability payment PPP projects as well as economic PPP structures. The market is currently seeing a change in the way large infrastructure projects are procured and Natalie anticipates that this will bring about a greater focus on building flexibility into infrastructure project contracts in the future.

Mihkel Wilding 

Mihkel WildingCompetition, Sydney

Mihkel is a respected competition and consumer law adviser, who understands the domestic and international regulatory environment impacting M&A transactions, investigations, enforcement and market studies. He expects the ACCC to continue to focus on consolidated sectors and on how competition, consumer and privacy laws should respond to growth in the collection and monetisation of personal data.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.