Professionals

Our Professionals


Our 'best people' are not only recruited for their technical ability, but for their industry understanding and for their approach to doing business.

We pride ourselves on being flexible and pro-active which enables us to build open and honest relationships with each other and our clients. We allow our people to be individuals, express opinions and contribute to outcomes for clients.

We have a real commitment to our people who in turn have a real commitment to our clients.

Meet our Partners



Brian Blakemore – Senior Partner

Brian-Blakemore-y

Brian provides legal advice to government authorities, financial institutions, building societies, private companies and individuals in a wide range of property related transactions. He acts for developers in some of Newcastle's largest residential and commercial/industrial developments.

Brian's 40+ years experience and knowledge enables him to provide specialist advice in relation to complex property sales and acquisitions, leases, mortgages, securities, planning and environment and compulsory acquisitions.

Contact Brian



Craig Doyle – Partner LLB, B.Ec (majored in accounting)

Craig-DoyleCraig is an accredited specialist by the Law Society of NSW in both business law and commercial litigation. He is an arbitrator of both the Local Court and the District Court and was admitted as a solicitor in 1984.

Craig's clients include property developers, entrepreneurs, corporations and business people. Craig worked for major national law firms in his early years of practice. He specialises in commercial transactions and documentation, commercial property, property development, the Retail Leases Act and issues with corporations. He is the firm's lead partner in commercial litigation and acts in commercial and transactional disputes.

Craig has a Certificate in Foundations of Directorship from the AICD and is a Notary Public.

Contact Craig



Andrew Craig – Partner B. Com, LLB

Andrew-Craig-yAndrew Craig specialises in commercial law including building and construction, commercial contract documentation and corporate advice.

Before joining McDonald Johnson, Andrew worked as a senior associate in the Property, Infrastructure & Development department of a large commercial law firm in Adelaide where he specialised in drafting and negotiating construction and infrastructure contracts for large corporations and government and statutory authorities.

Andrew has spent several years specialising in building, construction and mining law. Andrew has acted for several national mining and construction companies and gained expertise in the preparation of construction contracts and also litigious matters including claims under security of payment legislation.

Andrew represents clients in commercial litigation matters in various courts and tribunals including the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia.

Andrew currently acts for prominent property developers, statutory authorities, construction companies and professional services firms.

Areas of Expertise:

    •    General contract, corporate and commercial matters;
    •    Building and construction contracts;
    •    Property development and infrastructure; and
    •    Commercial litigation and dispute resolution

Contact Andrew


Lee-Anne Dimmock- Partner B.Ec, LLB, Dip Leg Prac

Lee-Anne Dimmock has over 15 years’ experience practising in the following core areas:

  • Property & Development;Lee-Anne Dimmock
  • Business succession & Estate Planning;
  • Corporate Law; and
  • Commercial Law.

Lee-Anne's expertise and understanding of the interplay of the above practice areas allows her to provide her clients with in-depth knowledge and practical advice.

Due to her knowledge, diligence, appreciation of commercial considerations and proactive approach, Lee-Anne has recent experience acting for a number of developers in mixed use strata and stratum construction projects.  Lee-Anne’s high level skills are evident in her pragmatic advice on subdivision strategy and titling considerations, drafting of project specific special conditions, by-laws, easements and management statements and liaising with project consultants to ensure a co-ordinated approach for the developer.

Lee-Anne has a niche area of practice assisting clients with their business succession and estate planning needs.  By reviewing a client’s existing superannuation and life policies, trust arrangements and business interests, Lee-Anne assists to cut through any confusion for clients when considering estate and non-estate succession planning.  She also encourages open communication with a client’s accountant and/or financial planner to break down any barriers a client may feel to ensure a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach between advisers.

Lee-Anne’s experience includes implementing intellectual property protection strategies, banking and finance structuring, due diligence for business acquisitions and commercial litigation.

Lee-Anne is delighted to return to McDonald Johnson after commencing her legal career at the firm in 2001 as a fresh law graduate.

Contact Lee-Anne


Andrew Ferguson – Partner LLB, BA, Dip Leg Prac

Andrew Ferguson advises clients on property law matters and transactions, acting for corporate, private, institutional and government clients. Andrew has particular experience acting for property developers, property fund managers and local government authorities.

Andrew provides commercially astute advice to clients in property law matters, including:

  • Mixed use developments, strata title (including staged strata) and community title; Andrew Ferguson
  • Complex title structuring;
  • Vacant land subdivisions;
  • Development agreements, project delivery agreements, joint venture agreements;
  • Acquisitions and disposals;
  • Property due diligence;
  • Leasing (commercial, retail and industrial);
  • Project finance arrangements and financier’s pre-funding requirements;
  • Easements; and
  • General property and conveyancing matters, including residential sales and purchases.

Andrew’s recent work includes:

  • 18 Honeysuckle Drive Newcastle (Edition Apartments) – a state significant mixed use development comprising residential, commercial and retail uses. Advising on title structuring and stratum subdivision, preparation of and entry into off-the-plan sales contracts, preparation of tailored by-laws for residential strata, preparation of strata management statement, and preparation and negotiation of agreement for lease and lease for commercial stratum.
  • Cubbyhole Newcastle – a staged strata development comprising industrial storage units. Advising on title structuring and staged strata subdivision, preparation of, entry into and completion of off-the-plan sales contracts, and preparation of tailored by-laws for Cubbyhole.
  • Port of Newcastle – assisting with leasing work in connection with the Port’s privatisation process. Advising on and preparing documents and dealings for post privatisation transactions with complex concurrent head lease and sublease structure, including the NCIG Rail Flyover project.
  • Property Fund Manager – National Leasing – acting for a Sydney based property fund manager with a national asset portfolio. Advising on and preparation of all leasing documents, including commercial leases, retail leases and industrial leases, fitout and incentive deeds, car parking licences and storage licences.
  • Community Title Development – acting for a property developer on a large-scale community title development in the Hunter Valley.
  • Sale of nib Building – advising on the sale and leaseback of nib’s head office building in Honeysuckle, Newcastle.
  • Steel River Storage Spaces – a staged strata development comprising storage units in the Steel River Industrial Estate, Pambalong Drive, Mayfield West. Advising on title structuring and staged strata subdivision, advising on Steel River Development Deed requirements, preparation of Strata Development Contract, preparation of, entry into and completion of off-the-plan sales contracts.

Contact Andrew


Sonia Anderson – Partner LLB, BA

Sonia Anderson

Sonia Anderson was born and raised in the Hunter Valley. She obtained her HSC from Francis Greenway High School in 1978. Having spent some years in Sydney, she returned to Newcastle in 1985 and commenced practising as a solicitor.
 
As a lawyer, for over 30 years Sonia has enjoyed a career focused on helping people to resolve conflict through the Australian legal system. In the beginning of the millennium she began to believe people could achieve more holistic solutions by resolving their own conflicts rather than by being assisted to build a case for the purpose of persuading a Judge to provide a legal solution for them. In 2002 she became an accredited Mediator.
 
In 2005 Sonia explored the vast social change the Western World has experienced and the manner in which Australian Parliaments have responded to this social change in her book “Reflections on Law and the failure of Morality” Insight press 2005.
 
One of her conclusions is that there has been a shift towards expert scientific evidence as being the only appropriate means to determine dispute. She questions whether our reliance on scientific expert evidence and legislative control by way of generalised external standards is the only appropriate answer.

Her view is that individualised processes which emphasise our humanness and our capacity for personal responsibility also offer legitimate and more holistic solutions for the delivery of justice within our new global community.

Sonia now provides mediation services in family law as a registered family dispute resolution practitioner; in all areas of personal injury as a mediator appointed to the NSW Law Society Panel of Mediators and in many other kinds of disputes including workplace disputes; deceased estate disputes and family estate planning disputes as a mediator accredited under the Australian National Mediation Standard.
 
Sonia continues to provide excellent quality in her legal services as a lawyer.
 
Among her qualifications, Sonia is also an accredited specialist in personal injury law and Approved Legal Service Provider for WIRO (The NSW Workers Compensation Independent Review Office). For further information about our family law and mediation services, visit http://www.lawandmediationservices.com.au.

Professional Qualifications:

  • Approved Legal Service Provider for WIRO since 2012
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Law (Wills and Estates) Awarded by the College of Law 2011
  • Accredited Mediator under the National Mediation Accreditation Standard since 2008 
  • Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner pursuant to the Family Law Act since 2007 
  • Accredited by Integro as a provider of DISC; internationally recognised behavioural profile 2006 
  • Workchoice and workplace mediation training 2006 
  • Micro skills refresher: private session, Preparing to negotiate 2006 
  • Appointed by the Chief Justice of the District Court to the District Court Panel of Mediators 
  • Appointed to the New South Wales Law Society’s Mediator’s Panel 2004 
  • Accredited “free to be me” course facilitator 2004 
  • Leadr advanced dispute resolvers workshop 2003 
  • Lifespring counselling skills course 2003 
  • Leadr mediation accreditation 2002 
  • Leadr mediation workshop 2002 
  • Accredited by New South Wales Law Society as a specialist in personal injury law 1996 
  • Admitted to High Court 1985 
  • Admitted Supreme Court of NSW as practising solicitor 1984 
  • College of Law – 6 months professional education course 1984 
  • Macquarie University – B.A.L.L.B. 1984

Contact Sonia


Meet our Solicitors

Peter Owens – Special Counsel BA LLB

Peter is an Accredited Specialist in Property Law and has practised as a Solicitor in Newcastle since 1980.

Areas of Law in which Peter has significant experience include:

  • All aspects of buying, selling and leasing residential, commercial and industrial properties;Peter Owens
  • Land development and subdivision including easements and covenants;
  • Strata title development and management;
  • Old System title and conversion and Crown Land dealings;
  • Residential and commercial developments;
  • Assistance with relocation of executives of a number of listed Public Companies in NSW;
  • Estate planning;
  • Estate administration; and
  • Elder law.

Over time Peter has acted for a number of Listed Public Companies as well as major property developers in Newcastle and the Hunter region.

Presently Peter is a Board member of Northern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, having been appointed to this position by the NSW Government.

Contact Peter



Andrew Johnson – Special Counsel B.Ec, LLBAndrew Johnson

Andrew was admitted as a solicitor in 1987 and is an Accredited Specialist in Property Law.

He practises in the area of Estate Planning including Wills, Testamentary Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardians. 

With superannuation becoming increasingly important as a financial resource for many, Andrew strongly believes in liaising closely with clients’ financial advisors when reviewing their estate planning needs.

As one of the earlier practitioners in the area to become accredited by the Law Society of New South Wales as a specialist in property law, Andrew has extensive experience in residential and commercial conveyancing, commercial and retail leasing, and has a particular interest in Old System title.

Contact Andrew



Anna Shelly – Solicitor B.Comms (Dist), LLB, Dip Leg PracAnna Shelly

Anna completed her combined degree at the University of Newcastle in 2014 and was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW in 2015. She was admitted to the High Court of Australia in 2017.

Anna gained experience as a law clerk at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre and at a variety of firms during her studies. She joined the firm as a Solicitor in 2015, assisting the partners with commercial litigation, debt recovery, Family Provision claims, family law, personal injury and insurance matters.

Anna can accept instructions to act as your Agent in civil matters in Newcastle Local and District Courts at short notice.

Contact Anna