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2019 Doyle’s Guide Awards: Wills, Estates, Succession Planning and Estate Litigation – Canberra

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For our wills and estates team, receiving eight Doyle’s Guide Awards is a wonderful reward, mostly because the awards are voted on by members of the legal profession and external professionals such as accountants and financial planners who see the impact of the work we do. It is a recognition for the area of law we specialise in. 

In estate planning and estate litigation in particular, there are quite a number of practitioners who claim they do this work and do a less-than-satisfactory job of it. There are fewer that specialise in the area than practice this area of law and as the people who vote are in some cases our competitors, we are proud to be recognised for our expertise.

In September 2019, our Wills and Estates Planning practice earned these Doyle’s Guide awards:

DDCS Lawyers ranked as one of only three firms named as a first tier practice in Leading Wills, Estates & Succession Planning Law Firms – Canberra, 2019.

We are also ranked as one of only two first tier firms in Leading Wills & Estates Litigation Law Firms – Canberra, 2019.

In addition to this, each member of our Estates team was individually awarded for their expertise in wills, estates, succession planning and estate litigation.

Phil Davey, Partner

Phil Davey - DDCS Lawyers Canberra - Wills and Estates

Preeminent – Leading Wills & Estates Litigation Lawyers – ACT 2019
Leading – Leading Wills, Estates & Succession Planning Lawyers – ACT 2019


Estate Litigation is Phil’s area of specialisation. Phil moved into Estate Law after specialising in the property and commercial aspects of Family Law and also achieved Specialist Accreditation in Family Law. In his Family Law work Phil discovered a need for better estate planning services in Canberra and rural New South Wales. The family law team had been referring clients out who needed estate planning but saw that clients were getting mixed results. 


As Family Law clients have a need to revisit their estate planning after separation and divorce, Phil began focusing on developing the Wills and Estates practice at DDCS and went on to complete his Masters in Law, specialising in dispute resolution. In this work Phil assesses client’s situations, determines the key issues that need to be resolved and gathers information and resources to then strategise how to resolve the dispute. With so much crossover between Family Law and Estate Law, having those two areas of specialisation and bringing perspective across both areas allows him to see a broader picture when providing advice and representing his clients. While Phil’s focus is dispute resolution, if required, Phil believes ‘There’s no point in being a dove if your opponent is a hawk.’


Theresa Dowling, Senior Associate

Theresa Dowling DDCS Lawyers Canberra

Recommended – Leading Wills, Estates & Succession Planning Lawyers – ACT 2019

Practicing for over 10 years, Theresa specialises in estate law and succession planning. Theresa works with clients who have complex probate and administration matters and finds helping warring executors resolve their differences a very rewarding part of her role.

Theresa advises clients with highly complex business structures in their succession planning, in particular multi-entity business or trust structures and inter-generational farming clients.

But why should these awards matter to you?

In the estate litigation space we see badly drawn wills that have the consequence of requiring court intervention. This can arise from a number of causes sometimes due to insufficient attention being paid to the possibility of a family provision claim, or sometimes because more than one executor has been appointed who are incompatible. Another issue we see arise is when elements of a will are unclear and there are doubts as to what was intended. This sometimes leads to needing to go to the court and ask for the will to be construed (interpreted). While a lot of these disputes are resolved at mediation that is often at a significant and avoidable cost and, if people in dispute are on the receiving end of poor advice and poor representation, then matters aren’t resolved as readily as they could be.

“…if people are on the receiving end of poor advice and poor representation,

then matters aren’t resolved as readily as they could be.”

These awards are a recognition of our team’s expertise and area of specialisation. We our proud of our team and the skills they bring to our clients daily.

DDCS Lawyers specialise in wills, estates planning and estate litigation. If you need assistance, contact our team on 02) 6212 7600 to book a consultation.