Jane Hall, partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, tells Australasian Lawyer why she wishes her clients would do her out of a job.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Unlike many of my fellow students at law school, I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to be a lawyer until I actually became one. After my first six months in a small plaintiff law firm in Sydney acting for injured workers, I was hooked.
How long have you worked at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and what brought you to this position?
I have worked at Corrs for 2 ½ years and chose Corrs because the firm was a good cultural fit for me. I was attracted to Corrs primarily for its commitment to diversity and flexibility and the opportunity to work with great lawyers particularly in the national workplace team.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
All of the cases I am involved in are complex and very often involve tragic circumstances, so none of them would really fall into the category of being strange. I have certainly provided legal advice in some interesting locations though, including in the middle of a forest, on a fishing vessel, at mines, in warehouses and distribution centres.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
I am fascinated and humbled by people who have turned adversity or a tragedy in their life into something meaningful for others so, in no particular order, I would invite Ahn Do and Rosie Batty. As a person living with heart disease, I would also invite Victor Chang.
You’re based in Melbourne – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
We are spoilt for choice in Melbourne but my favourite places are Siglo and Bar Lourhina.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Many young lawyers are in a hurry to be promoted quickly, including to partner. The best career advice I received was be patient, play the long game and you will be a better operator when you finally get there.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love watching sport and regularly attend the races, rugby matches and AFL games, but my favourite team is the Flaming Hornets (my 9yo’s basketball team). They don’t win many games but their enthusiasm, perseverance and team work is sensational to watch.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
I am passionate about safety, so if I wasn’t a lawyer I would probably be working as a safety professional.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
In the health and safety space the real challenge is the fact that we are dealing with relatively new legislation in a range of jurisdictions. Unfortunately this has resulted in additional frustration and expense during the investigation stages (pre-prosecution) as the regulators and duty holders grapple with their differing opinions and understanding of the scope of coercive powers.
If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?
Address the gender imbalance within his own team.
What do you love about your job?
Being able to help and support people following a crisis and when I get the opportunity to conduct coaching or training for clients. I have the privilege of using the tragic events I have attended to encourage businesses to remain vigilant about safety.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I often say to clients that my aim is to do myself out of a job, because that would mean that people are not being killed or injured at work.