DLA Piper partner Jane Hider takes five to tell us about the eccentric personalities she’s come across in the construction industry, and the importance of persistence.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Like many people, I studied law because I got the marks. I didn't 'decide' to become a lawyer until I was in my second year of practice when all of a sudden it just clicked and I decided it was the career for me. Contrary to the reputation of law as very constrained and conservative, I think that law allows a great deal of commercial creativity and innovation, and I love the problem solving aspect of my practice.
How long have you worked at DLA Piper for and what brought you to that position?
I have been at DLA Piper since 1996 when I arrived as a third year solicitor to what was then Phillips Fox. Since that time I have practiced almost exclusively in front end construction and projects work. In May this year I became the Managing Partner of DLA Piper's Melbourne office.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I have come across some strong and eccentric personalities over the years - it seems to be pretty common in the construction industry - and there have been some very interesting matters but I may keep silent to protect the innocent! I am however very proud of the fact that that I have acted for some of my clients (in the government sector in particular) for more than a decade.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
You’re based in Melbourne – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
- Sarah Britten (a Canadian Dane who writes about plant based whole foods (mynewroots.org)
- Anthony Beevor (UK historian- to talk WW2 and other historical things of interest)
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (19th century Russian writer with a very modern take on life)
I usually go to Mo Vida Aqui (in Bourke Street) with clients for lunch and also for an after work drink - it is just across the road from our office.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
I may not always take it, but advice to live by is (1) not to take things personally, and (2) keep things in perspective. Without perspective it can be very hard to get good client-focussed outcomes in the law because there are so many distractions. Lots of people tend to focus on tiny details which may or may not be relevant in the long run.
I am also a big believer in persistence. If it is worth aiming for then it is worth pursuing persistently.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I paint, write, run, do a lot of Kundalini yoga, read obsessively, and love cooking. I also enjoy a bit of limited social media, especially Instagram.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A writer. Hopefully a really successful one.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2014?
There will be more of the same - increased competition, more change in the legal market in terms of both client driven disruption and the movement of partners from firm to firm. The challenge for all of us is to provide an innovative legal offering which provides real value, whilst recognising that value for money means different things to different clients.
If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?
I doubt I could implement much in one day, but as an infrastructure lawyer I would really like to see:
What do you love about your job?
- More certainty for businesses trying to invest and work in the renewable energy market in Australia;
- A decrease in red tape (which in my area means the very extensive regulation - and in many cases duplication - of the construction industry). There are many areas which could and should be harmonised;
- A strategy for infrastructure investment which looks beyond the next election and creates a long term and Australia wide pipeline.
The fact that every day is different and I am constantly learning something new.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?