Five minutes with… Katherine Hooper

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Katherine Hooper, special counsel at DLA Piper, tells Australasian Lawyer why she thinks innovation is the single most important issue facing the legal space.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I've always loved writing and performing.  I wanted to be a journalist, but my (teacher) parents discouraged this. A high school teacher suggested to me that I would not get the marks to get into law. Challenge accepted. I put down law, law, journalism, as my only university preferences.

How long have you worked at DLA Piper and what brought you to this position?
I have worked at DLA Piper for almost 10 years.  I started as a casual paralegal whilst studying at Flinders University, in Adelaide.  At the time, my only other job was as a gymnastics coach. So it seemed like a good career move. 
I've witnessed the firm transform around me to become a leading global business law firm.  When I started out in our little office in Adelaide, I would never have dreamed that years later I'd be doing pro bono work in Lao PDR and Samoa, and travelling to Hong Kong and Orlando for management training, and our global Litigation and Regulatory conference, respectively.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I practice in the area of administrative law litigation and regularly represent the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.  Suffice to say, I get my fair share of strange, difficult, high profile, and interesting cases and litigants.  I've had the privilege of instructing the Solicitor General, now a Justice of the High Court, in proceedings before the High Court which raised significant issues in refugee and international law. 

Some of my most challenging cases, however, have been character visa cancellations in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.  In two particular cases, I represented the Minister in visa cancellations involving two brothers convicted of manslaughter of a police officer.  These types of cases are incredibly challenging, intense, and exhausting.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?

Rosie Batty, Catherine McGregor and Turia Pitt.  Three inspiring Australian women.

You’re based in Sydney – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Ms G's.  Their 'cereal' dessert changed my life.  It's a dish I like to think I've been pioneering for some time now.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
Treat your colleagues as you do your clients.  It's a bit corny but it is something I try and remind myself to do, particularly when I am under stress.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Sports, fitness, basically anything active and adventurous!  Every year, I make sure to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone.  Last year, it was participating in a Kylie and Danni Minogue flash mob with drag queens on Bondi Beach, and competing in an obstacle race.

Oh, and reading cases, of course.  Especially really long ones.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A famous movie star. 

Or maybe a journalist.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2016?
Innovation.  I think we're seeing the end of the traditional law firm model.  The legal practice is changing.  We are outsourcing, automating, and sending work off-shore.   Technology has had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on the way we practice.  I think we will see the courts continuing to seek innovative ways to utilise technology to manage their very significant workloads, particularly in the federal jurisdiction in which I practice.

If you had Malcolm Turnbull's job for one day, what would you do?
Legislate for marriage equality.

What do you love about your job?
The challenge of appearing as solicitor advocate.  I particularly enjoy teaching new solicitors advocacy and court etiquette skills, and seeing them conquer their nerves in their first few appearances.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would like to see a greater emphasis on the connection between a healthy, active lifestyle, and a successful professional career.  Partners leading by example, by going to the gym after work instead of working back late. 

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