Clayton Utz is an Australian law firm headquartered in Sydney, Australia. 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 the largest law firm based in Australia.
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.
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.
Several high-profile matters undertaken by the firm include Toll Holdings' takeover of Patrick Corporation, Mayne Group's de-merger, and Tattersall’s historic A$2.17 billion IPO and listing.
The firm's corporate team has acted for AMP on its A$14bn 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.
Pro bono and social responsibility
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. 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.
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.
In March 2010, the firm launched its Reconciliation Action Plan, and in 2011 became a foundation member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance to promote sustainable practices across the profession.
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". 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".
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. In 2002 Clayton Utz closed its tobacco claims litigation practice.
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. 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". 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)." 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". The lawyer in question resigned shortly after the case was settled.
Notable alumni of the firm include:Julie Bishop MP, 38th Minister of Foreign Affairs, and former Managing Partner of the Perth office
Joe Catanzariti, Vice President of the Fair Work Commission and former National head of the firm's Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety practice
Hector Clayton ED, Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, from 1937 - 1973
Michael Coates, United Kingdom Head of Legal at Shell, London
Anthony Fisher OP, 9th Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
James Halliday, Australian wine writer and critic, winemaker, and senior wine competition judge
John Howard OM, AC, 25th Prime Minister of Australia, from 1996-2007
Brigitte Markovic, Judge, Federal Court of Australia
Christian Porter MP, 26th Minister for Social Services, and former Treasurer and Attorney-General of Western Australia.