15 Feb 2021

New Zealand firm Bell Gully names new chair and promotes three to partner

Real estate lawyer Andrew Petersen replaces Anna Buchly in the top seat

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New Zealand’s Bell Gully has named Andrew Petersen as its new chair amid a number of senior promotions across the firm.

Petersen – who leads the firm’s projects and real estate department – replaces Anna Buchly after almost three years in the role, who steps down to resume her full-time practice as a corporate lawyer covering capital markets, M&A and private equity. Petersen has been at Bell Gully for almost two decades, having joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2003.

As well as Petersen’s appointment, the firm has also made three partner promotions – banking and finance lawyer Jennifer Gunser and experienced litigators Blair Keown and Kirsty Dobbs.

Petersen said: “The firm’s market leading litigation and financial services teams continue to be very busy and these appointments reflect the firm’s strength in these areas.”

Gunser has been in her second spell at Bell Gully for more than five years, having rejoined from Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, where she spent roughly two years as an associate in New York. Prior to that she had stints at Shearman & Sterling in both New York and London, having started her career as a solicitor at Bell Gully back in 2006.

Haydn Wong, the firm’s managing partner, said: “Jennifer has extensive experience across financial services matters, representing private equity clients, financial institutions and corporates on debt financing transactions, securitisations and financial services regulation.”

Keown joined Bell Gully in 2019 as a senior associate, having previously been at Allen & Overy in London, specialising in white collar crime issues.

Wong said: “Blair is a well-respected litigator and has recently represented a number of New Zealand’s largest companies in contentious matters in court proceedings. He has also taken on a leading role in the firm’s growing regulatory practice, including in relation to the financial conduct and AML regimes.”

Dobbs, meantime, has been at Bell Gully for 14 years, working her way up the ranks from solicitor.  She has expertise in oil and gas, contract and construction disputes and health, Wong said. She will take up the role in April, subject to Law Society requirements.

In addition to the new partner appointments, the firm also promoted Katie Dow to special counsel and five others to senior associate, including Jasmine Cunard, Jan Chen, Mathew Brown, Toa Vulgani and Sarah McFetridge.

Bell Gully was the second-highest law firm in a ranking published last year of New Zealand's best 100 employers.