Justin Sprogis, lawyer at Nexus, tells Australasian Lawyer why the best advice he has ever been given came from his mother.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I can’t act, can’t dance, can’t sing, can’t cook, I’m useless at anything involving my hands, I’m not good with children, I’m miserable at sports and couldn’t get into medical school. I also really, really liked ‘A Few Good Men’ when I was in high school. Put all those things together, and it became a pretty easy decision.
How long have you worked at Nexus, and what brought you to this position?
I’ve only been working at Nexus for two weeks or so, and I’ve been working remotely for most of the time. Having said that, when visiting the Nexus office last week, I was barely through the door before I was being invited out for the morning coffee run, and everyone in the team made the time to come to lunch with me. And they paid!
That confirmed for me that I had made the right choice in making the move to Nexus. I wanted to work in an environment where collaboration and teamwork was natural, rather than an afterthought, and where everyone worked together to do the best for the client, and for each other.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I know this might come as a bit of a surprise, but banking law is very traditional and highly regulated. People tend to take money, and their businesses, pretty seriously, and they need and deserve lawyers who are conservative, commercial and, let’s face it, a little obsessive.
And while it’s true that money can’t buy everything, it can certainly buy a lot. Like an overseas client who operated a massive superannuation fund. Upon being told that their main lender was being difficult, our client simply decided to buy up the bank. That’s one way to negotiate, and made for a very interesting phone call late on a Friday evening.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
1. Steve Jobs - while I may not agree with his management style, I respect his focus and vision. Plus, he is vegetarian too, so at least we could share a kale and tofu salad for entrée.
2. Gail Kelly – I recently heard her give a 15 minute speech without once saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or stuttering or faltering at all. She held the attention of everyone in the room, from the moment she stood from her chair to the time she sat down again. I would love to ask her what she is thinking, while we share our main course.
3. Sandra Bullock – I have my reasons. We would share mud cake for dessert.
You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I’m a non-drinker, so I guess I have a different selection criteria from most people. For all those non-drinkers out there, I can highly recommend Frankie’s Pizza on Hunter Street in the Sydney CBD, for the live music and the close proximity to my friends’ workplaces. My friends are pretty cool.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Listen to your mother, people. She told me that if you’re not happy in what you’re doing, then stop doing it. If you have the courage to try something new, to take a risk or two, and think positively, you’ll never fail.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
My wife and I enjoy our Sunday morning Japanese drumming lessons (taiko). There is something very meditative and therapeutic about hitting a huge, old, and beautifully made drum with a large drum stick for an hour or two.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A clown. No, a professional skateboarder. Or a personal trainer. Or an action hero. So many choices.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the B&F space in Australia in 2015?
With the recent, well-publicised changes to the way banks and other financial institutions are required to view their capital reserves and risk ratings of transactions (particularly as a consequence of the recent Murray Report into financial stability), I believe that 2015 will see a move by all Australian banks to adjust their lending practices towards traditional, low-risk and safe deals. Given how favourably the new capital regime looks on, for example, property transactions secured against domestic properties, and the growing levels of foreign investment in Australian real property, I believe that 2015 will be regarded as the year in which all the competition amongst banks will be for foreign borrowers looking to invest in real property. New or innovative areas such as technology start-ups are going to find it even harder to get debt funding. Whether this is a good, sensible approach to market uncertainty, or an over-reaction to theoretical future events, remains to be seen.
If you had Tony Abbot’s job for one day, what would you do?
Apologise. A lot.
What do you love about your job?
I love learning about a client’s business, where it has been and where it is going. It is such a privilege to be a part of a solution to a problem, and to have so much trust placed in us and the advice we give.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
You know, for the first time in my professional life, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a pretty sweet gig, and I’ve loved every second of my two weeks at Nexus. I’m looking forward to the future.