Clayton Utz

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Clayton Utz
Clayton Utz
Headquarters1 Bligh Street
Sydney, Australia[1]
No. of offices6
No. of employees1,200+
Major practice areasFull service commercial law[2]
RevenueIncrease AUD$436 million (2013)[3]
Profit per equity partnerAUD$1.5 million (2011/12)[4]
Date founded1833[5]
FounderGeorge Robert Nichols
Company typePartnership

Clayton Utz is an Australian law firm headquartered in Sydney, Australia.[6] Established in 1833, it is a member of what was known as the Big Six of Australian law firms. With annual revenue in excess of $436 million, 175 partners and over 1,200 personnel in six offices, it is one of the largest law firms solely based in Australia.[7][3]

Legal services[edit]

The firm provides legal services in banking and finance, capital markets and securities, competition, compliance, construction and projects, corporate / mergers and acquisitions, environment and planning, insurance, intellectual property, international arbitration, legal technology support, litigation and dispute resolution, native title, product liability, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, taxation, telecommunications, media and technology, and employment/industrial relations law.

In 2012, the Legal 500 ranked the following practice areas as 'Tier One': construction and Major Projects, Corporate and M&A, Dispute Resolution, Projects and Infrastructure, Real Estate, and Transport.[8]

Clayton Utz manages transactions for domestic and international clients from a range of jurisdictions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan and India. The firm has many dual-qualified lawyers.

Clayton Utz has relationships with firms around the world and is a member of a number of international legal networks, including Lex Mundi and Pacific Rim Advisory Council.[9]

Clayton Utz was named Australian Law Firm of the Year at the 2018 Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards.

Significant legal work[edit]

Several high-profile matters undertaken by the firm include Toll Holdings' takeover of Patrick Corporation,[10] Mayne Group's de-merger,[11] and Tattersall's historic A$2.17 billion IPO and listing.[12]

The firm's corporate team has acted for AMP on its A$14 billion acquisition of AXA Pacific Holdings and represented the Singapore Exchange on its proposed merger with ASX. The team has also acted for a number of clients including Noble Group, Barrick Gold and Fortescue Metals.[8]

Pro bono and social responsibility[edit]

The firm provides pro bono legal services and supports a number of charities and community organisations. The firm has acted on a pro bono basis for nearly 4,000 people and over 1,000 not-for-profit organisations, and assisted thousands more people at 36 different outreach legal advice clinics.[13] In July 2015, Clayton Utz achieved the milestone of 500,000 hours of pro bono legal assistance and representation to disadvantaged individuals who could not obtain Legal Aid, and not-for-profit organisations. As at that time, this was the most pro bono work ever conducted by an Australian law firm, or by any firm outside of the United States.[14]

The firm adopted a Corporate Citizenship Policy in 2002 and established the Clayton Utz Foundation in 2003 as the first ever Private Ancillary Fund at an Australian law firm. Since 2003, the Clayton Utz Foundation has made over $7.3 million in grants to 212 charities.[15]

In March 2010, the firm launched its Reconciliation Action Plan,[16] and in 2011 became a foundation member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance to promote sustainable practices across the profession.[17]


In 2006 Clayton Utz was investigated by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, having been alleged to have engaged in criminal conduct during the course of the 2002 litigation brought by Rolah McCabe. During the course of the trial it was revealed that Clayton Utz ran a "document retention policy" which was said to have involved "getting rid of everything that was damaging in a way that would not rebound on the company or the British American Tobacco Group as a whole".[18] This included incriminating documents that outlined the extent of BAT's knowledge of the health effects of smoking. Glenn Eggleton, a former managing partner of the firm, was said to have given evidence that was "potentially perjurious".[19]

An appeal against the ruling of the Supreme Court of Victoria in the matter of McCabe v BATAS was upheld by the Victorian Court of Appeal which exonerated Clayton Utz of any wrongdoing in relation to advice given by the firm to BATAS regarding its document management.[20] In 2002 Clayton Utz closed its tobacco claims litigation practice.[21]

In 2011, Clayton Utz was subject to a sexual harassment claim after allegations of inappropriate emails being circulated among graduate lawyers in the firm about a female graduate lawyer.[22] The lawyer in question referred to female co-workers as "crazy single female chicks" who "just need[ed] a good **** to get them back to normal".[23] In making an order, McCallum J noted "It is difficult to decide whether it is more surprising that the remarks were made at all (after over a century of feminism) or that a lawyer recorded them in an email (after over seven centuries of subpoenas)."[23] Clayton Utz was found not liable for the emails on the basis that the "partners of Clayton Utz ought reasonably to have prevented such correspondence".[24] The lawyer in question resigned shortly after the case was settled.

In 2014 Clayton Utz advised Monash University in an Industrial Relations case involving the sham redundancies of 5 staff. Clayton Utz prepared a Change Proposal that described staff in the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture as being in discrete discipline or mono-disciplinary academic positions and that these positions were no longer viable in the contemporary art scene which was defined by its interdisciplinarity. In a brief consultation meeting with the staff the Dean of the Faculty Professor Shane Murray described an entirely different scenario and instead claimed that the Head of Fine Art Professor Callum Morton had developed an 'Interdisciplinary Profile" that graded the staff according to their ability to teach across a variety of disciplines.This caused a conundrum for the University as it meant that two entirely different methods of selecting staff for redundancy had been put forward. To overcome this, Clayton Utz lawyer Graham Smith proposed the University redefine the meaning of "mono-disciplinary" to mean "not only one discipline, but a few; it's a relative term"; this provided the University with the necessary bridge between mono-disciplinary and interdisciplinary. Professor Callum Morton and the university then proceeded to falsify documents to support their case. The staff were made redundant, and although the case never proceeded to the Fair Work Commission, it had widespread implications which eventually saw the resignation of the Provost Edwina Cornish. Clayton Utz Industrial Relations specialist Stuart Pill presented the case as a case study to the Australian Higher Education Industrial Association (AHEIA) Annual Conference in 2015 as an example of complex case management, but failed to fully detail Clayton Utzs' role in what he described as an "indefensible paper trail"


Notable alumni of the firm include:


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Clayton Utz Expertise - Expertise - Clayton Utz". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Clayton Utz suffers 4pc revenue decline amid job cuts". 6 September 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. ^ "How much do lawyers earn?". 13 September 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Lex Mundi: The Worlds Leading Law Firm Network". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ "BNP Paribas eyes Sydney O'Connell Street office address". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Independent law firms: The case for staying local". 15 August 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Chambers and Partners directory". Chamber and Partners. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  9. ^ Kirsty Simpson; Rod Myer; Malcolm Maiden (13 May 2006). "Crash of the Titans". The Age.
  10. ^ "ASX announcement and media release". ASX. 17 June 2005.
  11. ^ "Float creates new millionaire factory". The Australian. 3 June 2005.
  12. ^ "Our Pro Bono Practice". Clayton Utz. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Clayton Utz marks 500,000 pro bono hours milestone by funding new Health Justice Partnerships centre". Clayton Utz. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  14. ^ "The Clayton Utz Foundation". Clayton Utz. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Reconciliation". Clayton Utz. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Clayton Utz and the environment". Clayton Utz. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Law firm Clayton Utz faces criminal investigation". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 December 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  18. ^ "The importance of being earnest". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Media Statement". Clayton Utz. 6 December 2002. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  20. ^ "Clayton Utz to close tobacco claims litigation practice". Clayton Utz. 18 July 2002. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  21. ^ "Clayton Utz lawyer Luis Izzo exposed as a rude e-male". 30 November 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  22. ^ a b "Styles v Clayton Utz (No. 3) [2011] NSWSC 1452, 143". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Styles v Clayton Utz (No. 3) [2011] NSWSC 1452, 144". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Clayton Utz congratulates Joe Catanzariti on appointment to Fair Work Commission". Clayton Utz. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  25. ^ "The Hon Brigitte Sandra Markovic". Federal Court of Australia. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Clayton Utz partner appointed to the Federal Court of Australia". Clayton Utz. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2016.

External links[edit]