The 2016 New Zealand Power Lawyer List . .

The Firm Leaders

When law firms start nudging the $100 million in billings barrier you know you’ve got power and influence.

The relatively small New Zealand market has provided a significant dominance by the three firms in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Russell McVeagh, Chapman Tripp and Bell Gully, but the other firms close to that group, particularly Simpson Grierson and Buddle Findlay, continue to strengthen their brand and presence with mixed success.

Notable among the development of the major players has been an expansion of the South Island-based Anderson Lloyd and Duncan Cotterill with strong moves into the commercial hub of Auckland.

The leaders who help direct the firms are key power figures in the New Zealand legal landscape.

Pip Greenwood – Russell McVeagh


Pip Greenwood
Pip Greenwood

Russell McVeagh has executive partners and chairs drawn from the partnership. However one of the ongoing powers in the firm must be the existing Power Lister, Pip Greenwood who continues her rise within the profession generally and in the wider commercial community, but also for her significant role within Russell McVeagh itself.

The firm’s CEO is long time manager Gary McDiarmid who had lead the firm’s management for over 15 years, reporting to the firm’s Board of Managment and leading the firm’s management teams.

A former Fletcher Challenge executive and qualified accountant, he previously had nine gary-mcdiarmidyears’ experience with another law firm and has helped advance the firm commercially as well as leading initiatives like its Diversity Project, which has accelerated the promotion of women and minorities within the firm. The firm has been active in encouraging Maori and Pacifica graduates to its ranks.






Peter Chemis – Buddle Findlay


peterchemisHe might be called ‘Mr Chairman’.  It may not be a ‘Golden Triangle’ firm, but Peter Chemis’ reign at Buddle Findlay has seen him develop the firm’s growth and chairing it since 2007 – proof positive on his efficacy and ability.

A commercial litigator and employment law specialist, he has also chaired the Advisory Group to the government which advised on the review of the Holidays Act 1981 as well as chairing the Health and Safety in Employment Implementation Advisory Panel, which advised the Department of Labor and the government on the implementation of the amendments to the Health and Safety in Employment Act. He also chaired the Working Party to advise the Minister of Labor and chaired a bipartied committee of unions and DHBs.

More recently he’s been acting as President of the Wellington College Cricket Club in their search for a First XI coach.

 Martin Wiseman – DLA Piper

Running the New Zealand link to one of the world’s largest law firms and the first firm inwiseman New Zealand as one of a global network, has seen DLA Piper’s Martin Wiseman help integrate the New Zealand firm with its Australian business, as well as aggressively progress the firm’s development and growth in New Zealand.

An innovative and effective leader, the corporate partner who specialises in corporate and insolvency law, Wiseman has been involved in some major client transactions as well as showing his conservationist interests through his active involvementin the Lake Tarawera Ratepayers Association.

As chair of DLA Piper he has overseen the growth of the practice and its increasing incorporation into the global DLA Piper network.

Nick Wells, Chapman Tripp

Nick Wells
Nick Wells

As Chief Executive Partner at Chapman Tripp, possibly the most profitable law firm in New Zealand, Nick Wells has a powerful position in the legal universe.  An expert in corporate structuring for businesses and Maori groups, he is Kaihautu of the firm’s Maori legal group helping iwi and Maori organisations needing assistance in handling Treaty settlements and joint ventures.

He also helps the Auckland Law School’s iwi governance courses and handles some major private equity and corporate acquisition work.


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 James Gordon – Bell Gully

chris-gordonReplacing former chairman Roger Partridge as firm chairman in 2014, Chris Gordon is a 28-year legal veteran with US and New Zealand corporate law experience, now heading one of the powerhouse firms in the country.
A partner in Bell Gully since 1999 and a Wellington office chair for some years prior to taking the top spot, he also heads the firm’s energy and resources and infrastructure practice groups.

Richard Greenaway – Anderson Lloyd

Richard Greenaway joined Anderson Lloyd in 2012 after working in both Australia and New Zealand and has helped grow the firm, particularly in its Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland offices.richard-greenaway
In 2014 he helped recruit litigator Simon Munro from Anthony Harper, while in Auckland in the same year the firm saw three former Russell McVeagh partners join the new Auckland office of the firm.


Terry McLaughlin – Duncan Cotterill

 terry-mclaughlanTerry McLaughlin may be a chartered accountant, but he has needed to think like a lawyer to help propel the growth of the multi-office Duncan Cotterill network.

With offices in Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington and Auckland (where the firm recently celebrated their 30th anniversary) Duncan Cotterill has a strong executive team including Malcolm Harrington with international business and brand management experience helping to build a strong national presence for the firm.

Lloyd Kavanagh – MinterEllisonRuddWatts

lloyd-kavanaghTaking over in December 2016 the former chair of the firm Cathy Quinn, Llloyd Kavanagh has large shoes to fill given the success and profile achieved by his predecessor, a Power Lister.   Already well known for his work in investment scheme and financial law and as a former Securities Commission member.

The firm’s CEO, Mike Schubert, is a former PwC partner who has wide commercial schubert-mikeexperience in New Zealand and abroad.






Gerald Fitzgerald – Kensington Swan

gerald-fitzgeraldAn expert in finance law, debt finance and related areas, Gerald Fitzgerald is the well regarded chair of Kensington Swan.

Having served on the KS board for nine years he is well ingrained in the firm’s workings.  A keen boatie and fisherman he is also heavily involved in the Lake Taupo Protection Trust but equally well known for his array of commercial clients and deals.

Chief Executive Charles Spillane has taken over the reigns from Alastair Carruthers, also former CEO of Chapman Tripp, who helped develop the firm’s diversity and growth.



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