Tell us about your background.
I started my legal career as a commercial
litigator in one of Australia’s leading law
firms. Following a secondment at one of
Australia’s major financial institutions, I
made the transition to in-house counsel in
banking dispute resolution. I would later
move into legal practice management and
cross-border legal work. I am currently the
manager legal and deputy company secretary at St Barbara Limited, an ASX 200 listed
gold mining company.
What are some skills that in-house counsel
need to hone and advance their careers?
I think it depends on what stage of your
career you are at. For more junior in-house
lawyers, commercial acumen, communication skills, and trust are important skills.
However, more senior lawyers and those at
the level of general counsel need to develop
strategic thinking in a related discipline —
such as corporate governance, risk management, or compliance.
How did you first become involved
in the Australia Chapter, and can
you highlight some key milestones
of the Australia Chapter?
I have been involved in the Australian Chapter
of ACC for over 10 years. Initially, I was chair
of the social committee for the Victorian division and later the state president for Victoria.
I joined the national board of what was then
the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association
(ACLA) over five years ago and am currently
the national president. ACLA was formed
more than 30 years ago and during that time,
some of the major milestones for ACLA/ACC
Australia have been:
■ ■ Merging each of the state divisions in
Australia into a single national body and
incorporating a single national board;
■ ■ Achieving the goal of 2000 members by
■ ■ Negotiating the alliance with ACC
to become the Australian Chapter of
How does your chapter promote
meaningful connections and
provide value to its members?
We have a number of ways we add value to
our members, including the provision of
over 150 free CPD events each year for our
members, including our two day annual
National Conference; holding several social
events all around Australia; running CPD
workshops on vital soft skills; access to
publications like the Australian Corporate
Lawyer; and, most recently, supply members
with professional indemnity insurance as
part of their membership.
The ACC Australia Chapter recently
released a benchmarking report.
Can you describe key findings?
As has been the case for a number of years,
Australian in-house counsel are reporting
increasing workloads and time pressures and
limited resources and budgetary constraints,
compounded by tightening regulation. The
majority ( 60 percent) of Australia and New
Zealand (ANZ) in-house lawyers reported
pressure to reduce legal costs, while some ( 25
percent) experience pressure to minimise cost
increases. The cost pressures are driven by:
■ ■ General cost reduction program within
■ ■ The operating environment/general
market conditions; and,
■ ■ Economic conditions causing the business
to operate cautiously.
For the first time in our benchmarking
reports, women now account for 50 percent of
head of legal functions. The ANZ in-house legal
profession continues to lead the profession on
gender diversity, where only 25 percent of law
firm partners at 52 of Australia’s largest law
firms are women.
General counsel are also increasingly being
promoted to the C-suite, with half of respondents’ ( 50 percent) head of legal function reporting directly to the CEO or equivalent, followed
by 28 percent who report to a person that reports
directly to the CEO or equivalent. As a result,
Chapter Spotlight: Australia
MANAGER LEGAL & DEPUTY
S T BARBARA LIMITED