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Herbert Smith Freehills has promoted 15 lawyers to Executive Counsel or Special Counsel roles in Australia as part of the firm’s annual global Counsel promotion round. The appointments take effect from 1 May 2022. 

Executive Partner, East, Andrew Pike commented: “Promotions are not only about recognising talent and investing in our people. They are also about ensuring that we have the right people in place to meet the evolving needs of our clients.  

“These new Counsel – from a wide range of practice groups across the firm – are all highly skilled and experienced senior lawyers with the specialised knowledge and expertise that our clients expect on their matters. They have each made a positive contribution to the firm and have a strong track record of delivering outstanding work. I wish them every success in their new roles.” 

The new Australian appointments are: 

Executive Counsel 

Sophie Beaman – Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety (Industrial Relations), Sydney: Sophie is an experienced employment lawyer with a particular focus on industrial relations, including advising clients on enterprise bargaining strategies, dispute resolution and responses to industrial action. She has a broad practice in all areas of employment law, particularly across the mining and resources, construction, transport, infrastructure and banking sectors. 

Danielle Briers – Disputes (Commercial Litigation / Regulatory Investigations & Inquiries), Sydney: Dani specialises in complex commercial litigation and regulatory investigations, particularly in the banking and finance sector. With expertise in both litigation and advisory work (including in-house), she brings practical and strategic insights to help clients efficiently navigate all phases of a financial services regulatory case – from initial investigation / breach reporting to regulator engagement, remediation projects and enforcement action. Dani has assisted numerous major financial institutions to resolve complex regulatory matters, including in the retail banking, car finance, superannuation and insurance sectors. 

William Chew – Corporate (M&A, and Restructuring, Turnaround and Insolvency), Sydney: William is an experienced corporate lawyer with significant experience in public M&A (takeovers and members’ schemes of arrangement), private M&A, corporate restructurings and reorganisations and general corporate and commercial advisory matters across a range of sectors. William also has experience in stressed and distressed M&A, including advising clients on creditors’ schemes of arrangement and sale processes where companies are facing financial stress. 

Rebecca Davie – Real Estate (Environment, Planning and Communities), Sydney: Rebecca is an expert in environment and planning law. She has a background in environmental science and project management. Rebecca acts for Government and private clients on major urban renewal projects, utility-scale renewables, national and international transactions with material environmental issues and has run significant environmental litigation. Rebecca’s expertise includes complex planning approvals pathways, Court appeals and defending enforcement actions. She also has extensive experience in environmental crisis management including contamination liability and pollution incidents. 

Guillermo Garcia-Perrote – Disputes (Commercial Litigation and International Arbitration), Sydney: Guillermo specialises in international commercial arbitration, investment treaty arbitration and cross-border litigation, with a particular focus on disputes in the construction/infrastructure and energy sectors. He works with clients to resolve complex cross-border disputes and achieve strong commercial outcomes through dispute avoidance, investment structuring, project delivery, settlement negotiations and enforcement strategies. He has extensive experience resolving disputes under a wide range of arbitration rules and under the laws of common and civil law systems. Guillermo is admitted in Australia (NSW), England & Wales and Spain.  

Ben Harris – Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety (Employment), Sydney: Ben is an experienced employment lawyer who has worked in leading employment practices in Sydney, Hong Kong and London. He has a particular interest in the tech sector, providing employment advice to start ups, emerging and global tech companies. Ben also works with clients across a number of other industries, including banking and financial services, healthcare and sport. He has experience in a wide range of employment litigation and data privacy matters and advising multi-national employers on issues relating to their global workforce. He is admitted to practice in New South Wales, Hong Kong, and England & Wales. 

Nadine Kilpatrick – Finance (Project Finance), Melbourne: Nadine is an experienced finance lawyer specialising in structured and limited recourse project finance, acquisition finance as well as public private partnerships. She has a particular focus on energy, power and infrastructure projects, and she has advised on a range of multi-jurisdictional transactions across the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa and Australia. 

Zoe Leyland – Corporate (M&A), Melbourne: Zoe specialises in mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law. Her experience includes working with various clients on control transactions, demergers, complex private M&A transactions, corporate governance and strategic advice across a range of sectors. 

Vanessa Leyshon – Disputes (Class Actions), Sydney: Vanessa is a commercial litigator with specialist expertise in defending class actions. She has acted in several of the most high-profile class actions in Australia and has experience in both shareholder and product liability class actions.

Emily Peverill – Real Estate (Commercial Property), Melbourne: Emily has extensive experience advising corporate and government clients on a range of real estate matters throughout Australia. Her primary focus is on commercial property matters including the acquisition and disposal of commercial, industrial and retail properties, negotiation of commercial contracts, commercial and retail leasing, and property development projects. Emily also advises on land assembly for major infrastructure projects throughout Victoria, including compulsory land acquisition matters.

Kara Reynolds – Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety, Brisbane: Kara has 15 years’ experience working in employment, industrial relations and safety (EIRS). She works broadly across the field, regularly advising clients in relation to: workplace safety incidents; workplace relations and safety considerations in large scale M&A; industrial bargaining and disputes; and strategic management of contractors, ill and injured workers and employee conduct matters. She also frequently undertakes workplace conduct investigations and runs matters that proceed to litigation. Her extensive industry knowledge, particularly in the mining and resource sector, has been shaped by her employment at two Queensland mines prior to joining legal private practice.

Lauren Selby – Corporate (Head Office Advisory Team), Sydney: Lauren specialises in providing advice to boards and corporate head office teams on public company governance, including legal and regulatory requirements, market practice and emerging trends. 

Special Counsel 

Daniel Johnson – Corporate (Technology, Media and Telecommunications), Sydney: Daniel is an expert in the field of digital infrastructure and has advised clients both nationally and internationally on complex and strategically important matters including the establishment of new subsea cables, mobile network rollouts and various fixed line and wireless related matters. He also has experience advising clients in both private and public sectors on a range of technology and telecommunication issues, regularly advising on data security, cloud services, software licensing, technology procurement and outsourcing related transactions, and privacy and data breach issues. 

Yorick Ng – Corporate (Funds and Wealth (Asset) Management), Sydney: Yorick is an experienced corporate lawyer specialising in financial services and investment funds in Australia. He has extensive experience acting for Australian and international financial services organisations in relation to all aspects of retail and wholesale funds management (including structuring and establishment of funds, operating and restructuring funds, control transactions, and outsourcing and termination of funds), regulatory advisory matters, and financial services related equity capital markets transactions and mergers and acquisitions. 

David Ryan – Corporate (Technology, Media and Telecommunications), Melbourne: David specialises in the digital and corporate advisory space, working with investors, corporates, founders and institutions on all aspects of technology and data. He advises clients in relation to digital transformation, cyber risk management, technology, data and outsourcing mandates, and separation and integration aspects of corporate transactions. 

The roles of Executive Counsel and Special Counsel are commensurate in level, however, Special Counsels differ from Executive Counsels in that they specialise in a particular niche area of law. 

Key contacts

Andrew Pike photo

Andrew Pike

Partner, Sydney

Andrew Pike