Scott Hay-Bartlem, partner at Cooper Grace Ward, tells Australasian Lawyer what he loves about being a lawyer.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I think my maternal grandfather first suggested it. He and I used to debate a lot. I couldn’t work out why I always seemed to lose, and then as I got older I realised he’d change the topic as he began to find he had a weaker position. Once I called him on that the tables turned!
I remember my high school English teacher always commented my assignments read like I was arguing a position (even if it was a book report).
I did a combined accounting and law degree at QUT and that fit neatly into a role Cooper Grace & Ward (as it then was) had at the time.
And LA Law
was on television at the time…
How long have you worked at Cooper Grace Ward for and what brought you to that position?
I first came to Cooper Grace & Ward in 1986 to undertake a one week work experience placement in high school (organised by my grandfather). After working with the firm during vacations from university, I joined full time as an articled clerk in January 1993. Since then I have progressed through the firm and am now a partner, the leader of the Commercial Workgroup and on our Board.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
My role throws up very interesting family scenarios, from people being someone’s father, step-father-in-law and cousin at the same time, to surprise family members turning up after someone has died, or surprise relationships being revealed later (of the ‘Luke, I am your father’ type). I don’t need to watch daytime soaps anymore.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
My maternal grandfather – he died in June 1994, six months before I was admitted as a lawyer. After 20-plus years I would love to catch up and let him see what I have achieved.
Either Grace Kelly or Princess Diana (depending on who was available) – both had such interesting and varied lives, were amazing style icons and achieved so much, and would provide a fascinating perspective on many things. And all the while both obviously had their demons.
My son’s birth mother – my wife and I only met her briefly nine years ago, and I’d like to know more about her, what she has been doing since, and her hopes and dreams for our son.
You’re based in Brisbane – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Tank in North Quarter Lane (and for a late afternoon pick-me-up they do a mean affogato)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
‘Think like a client’. I often look at something and consider how I would react if I were our client. It really helps focus my mind on what we are doing and trying to achieve, and how to deal with a file or an issue.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Over the last few years I have become a gym junkie. Being a father makes me conscious of maintaining my health as an example to my son, and it’s great for stress…
My son and I enjoy going on drives on weekends (the mountains around Brisbane and the Gold Coast are great for a quick weekend blast). And we have recently discovered go-karting.
My team would tell you I have several addictions, including caffeine and shopping (particularly for shoes). I guess they could be considered hobbies. But I could give those up if I wanted to (honest).
And I think my son would add to the caffeine and shoes that my hobby is travelling. I enjoy discovering new places (okay and particularly new shopping experiences and coffee shops). I point out to my son that it’s a great experience for him too!
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
Well, I’ve always fancied myself as a Top Gear
Failing that, I find organisational psychology fascinating – how to improve and make things happen in organisations. Sometimes the simplest things can have the biggest impact and what works best can be a surprise!
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
How we respond to the changing face of client demands, and particularly juggling an increasing expectation of a 24/7 work environment.
What do you love about your job?
I love that every client has a different story. The challenge becomes providing an answer to each client’s legal problems within the framework of the issues presented by their particular situation. It is a great buzz to see the relief once we have worked through how we can help them and get them where they want to go.
It’s also great working with my team and seeing them grow and progress. Many of my team have come in straight from school or as graduates or first year lawyers, and to see how they have developed and be part of their journeys is truly rewarding.
And finally, my role is so varied. It is a really interesting mix of different types of legal work, business development and management and leadership. There is always something interesting happening and something new to learn and try! And in my role here at CGW I can really make a difference in how things operate.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I can always see more that I can do, particularly with my team, and there is never enough time in the day to do everything. Oh if I only could clone myself and have twice as much time!