DLA Piper partner Amelia Kelly takes five to tell us about the strangest case she’s ever worked on and what she’d change about her job if she could
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I always wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger and when the opportunity arose, it just seemed like a natural choice. Fundamentally, laws are the fabric of our society so once you understand how the legal system works you are much closer to understanding the world we operate in. There's never a dull day and it's one of the few careers that requires constant innovation and strategy, so you bring creativity to the table while operating within a legal frame of reference.
How long have you worked at DLA Piper for and what brought you to that position?
I joined DLA Piper because I recognised the benefits that a global firm could bring to clients and wanted to be a part of its exciting offering. I joined a month after DLA Piper integrated with its Australian predecessor firm in May 2011. I was made a partner in May this year and haven't looked back.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I focus on contentious restructuring, insolvency and litigation. One of the strangest cases I worked on involved a defendant who professed to hold over $500 million of investor funds in an Australian bank account, only to be caught out fudging bank statements in an urgent hearing. We managed to seize the defendant's passport there and then. In contentious litigation, many strange turns of events can happen - the key is to capitalise when they do.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Albert Einstein - he could help explain the theory of relativity while also hold his own in a philosophical discussion.
Hillary Clinton- she is such an influential figure head for women and perhaps the next US president - I've followed her career and find her inspirational.
Christine Lagarde - both an amazing and powerful women. She would be a great guest and could share her insights on the world economy.
You’re based in Sydney– where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
One of my favourite places to unwind with dinner and a drink is along the wharf at Woolloomooloo. China Doll has an excellent atmosphere and fantastic outlook. It's close to the office and clients love it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
One of the best pieces of advice I've received is to keep perspective and always remember what's truly important. That advice applies in both a personal context and professionally. Working in litigation with many urgent matters it's important to remember the bigger picture and not lose sight of the wood for the trees.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love music of all genres and of course reading - principally fiction but there's nothing better than an excellent biography. I also do a lot of bush walking, swimming and cooking.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A writer, although I'm not sure that would pay the bills.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
There are many issues facing the legal space but one in particular is the cost of litigation, the delays in court proceedings, and the dissent amongst the judiciary. There needs to be further streamlining of court processes to keep up with, and deliver expedient dispute resolution solutions to, the commercial world. Obviously cost pressures are a real issue for businesses as are timely results. There has been a growing reluctance among the business world to litigate and in order to add value, it's important to think laterally and come up with solutions outside the square to deliver meaningful results.
If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?
I'd probably lower the current company tax rate.
What do you love about your job?
Delivering fast pace, commercial solutions for clients in complex disputes and insolvencies. We have an excellent team and there is nothing better than putting in the hours and achieving the result the client wants.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Make more hours in the day!