Media Release: Three Clayton Utz partners named winners at 2020 Lawyers Weekly Partner of the Year Awards

14 Dec 2020

14 December 2020: Legal industry title Lawyers Weekly recently announced the winners of its 2020 Lawyers Weekly Partner of the Year awards - and three Clayton Utz partners are among them.

They are:

Claire Smith 

Claire Smith

Native Title, Planning and Environment Partner of the Year


Claire – who has a science background and began her career as an environmental consultant – said she was honoured to receive the award, which she dedicated to "my supportive family and my team of very talented and hard-working lawyers and business support professionals".

Claire singled out several highlights of her year in practice, including: advising Chevron on the environment and planning aspects of their acquisition of the Puma Energy business; helping Idemitsu Australia, Graymont and Origin Energy to secure new planning approvals for their projects; and working with South Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils to deliver a timely advocacy report in advance of the release of NSW 20-year waste strategy on the legislative and policy constraints currently impacting the waste and resource recovery industry.   "In 2021, I'm looking forward to advising our resources clients on approvals, compliance and energy transition matters, and our government and developer clients on affordable and social housing policy changes," said Claire. She also anticipates plenty of advice work on the implications of the 20-year waste strategy and creating a regulatory environment to promote a circular economy.


Samy Mansour

New Partner of the Year – 3 years or less

Samy credits his award to "our fantastic clients, and to the great Clayton Utz team that supports them and me". 

In 2020, Samy's work highlights included acting on sales, acquisitions and joint ventures for clients across the energy, resources, transport, manufacturing and retail sectors, including some of the world's largest steel makers, commodities traders, freight and haulage businesses, energy companies, industrial manufacturers, retailers and distributors.  "I look forward to heightened M&A activity in these sectors in 2021 as sellers and buyers have greater alignment on pricing expectations, appreciating the impact of the pandemic," Samy said.

Dr Ashley Tsacalos 

Dr Ashley Tsacalos

Government Partner of the Year


Ashley said his award "recognises the hard work, dedication and commitment of my stellar team and is only possible because of the faith and trust that our clients place in us to assist them with the range of challenging issues that they encounter".

Highlights of Ashley's year in practice include assisting the Port Authority of NSW with the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess; assisting nbn with the Royal Commission into the National Natural Disaster Arrangements; advising parties in an ICAC inquiry and parliamentary inquiry respectively, and; advising a range of Commonwealth and NSW government departments and agencies in relation to various complex disputes (both litigated and un-litigated) as well as administrative law, statutory interpretation, parliamentary process and compliance matters.

Of what lies ahead, Ashley said: "We have back to back coronial inquests in the middle of the year which will attract significant media and political interest as well as a number of ongoing disputes and litigious matters which will require careful strategic and forensic application to manage efficiently and effectively. I'm also looking forward to assisting our Commonwealth and NSW government clients, together with our non-government clients, with the range of challenging issues that they will confront which will require our specialist advice and assistance in the areas of disputes, litigation, tort law, administrative law, statutory interpretation and parliamentary process, as well as navigating any royal commission or inquiries that arise".


The annual Partner of the Year Awards showcase outstanding performance by partners (or partner equivalent) across individual practice areas.

Clayton Utz had ten other finalists in the Awards: Brendan Bateman - Native Title, Planning and Environment; Stuart Byrne - Capital Markets; Emma Covacevich - Projects, Energy and Resources; Pete Feros - Taxation; Paul Fontanot - Innovator of the Year; Andy Fry - New Partner of the Year, 3 years or less; Mark Geritz - Native Title, Planning and Environment, Projects, Energy and Resources; Orla McCoy - Insolvency; Jo Pugsley -Construction and Infrastructure; Ken Saurajen - Technology.

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