5: 30 am Alarm bells rudely end my sleep. I had a long evening judging a “Corporate Counsel Challenge” for
law students. The competition, which was facilitated by the University Of Technology Sydney’s law
faculty and the New South Wales Division of ACC Australia, allowed me to connect with the next
generation of lawyers. As I eat breakfast, I help my children get ready for various sports training and
head out the door by 6: 30 a.m.
7:00 am On the bus, I scan emails, headlines, and social media.
7: 30 am Coffee in my office. Depending on what has come in overnight — which is part of the excitement of
working at a company which serves over 140 countries — I prioritise the day’s tasks.
8:00 am Meeting with the regional CEO and CFO to discuss the legal aspects of a potential acquisition.
8:30am Work on a training presentation, which I am due to deliver to the New Zealand business next month.
Afterward, I have a few minutes to spare, so I scan some publications on law and technology for an
9:00 am Dial-in to a Skype meeting about a new strategic initiative.
9: 30 am Participate in a catch-up call with my team in Melbourne.
10:00 am My second cup of coffee for the day, I’m into my “green zone.” No calls or emails unless urgent — and
no meetings. Over the next two hours, I work through a proposed JV arrangement, complete a deed
of assignment of lease, and finalise some minutes for the board of directors.
12:00 pm As president of the New South Wales division of ACC Australia, I facilitate an ACC general
counsel roundtable on cyber liability with a focus on crisis management. The attendees comprise
approximately 25 general counsel from a range of industries, including financial services, telco, real
estate, mining, and manufacturing. A number of the attendees are friends, so it’s an opportunity to
quickly catch up.
1: 15 pm Dash back to the office to discuss some logistics about an upcoming ACC conference. Deng Adut, the
2016 NSW Australian of the Year, will speak at the event. Adut was a former Sudanese child soldier
who, with the help of the United Nations, was smuggled to Australia at the age of 14. He taught
himself to read and went on to study law. He matriculated in 2011, completed a master’s degree,
and is now a practicing lawyer.
1: 30 pm Attend the monthly risk and compliance committee meeting, then check the constant flood of emails.
2: 30 pm Receive a phone call about a potentially contentious new issue. The next hour is spent making phone
calls, fact finding, and instructing lawyers.
3: 30 pm Review the different insurance law requirements for some of the Pacific islands we operate in to
provide background to some advice I’m drafting.
4:00 pm Prepare for a call tomorrow regarding our global pro bono committee, including advice for the
upcoming launch of the Australian Pro Bono Centre’s new guidelines for in-house lawyers. In
addition, I review for a presentation I’m giving in October on “Ethics and Pro Bono” at the ACC
Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
4: 30 pm Finalise some employment advice and discuss with HR.
5:00 pm Head to my son’s basketball training. On the bus, I read a sobering article on climate change, “The
Uninhabitable Earth,” by David Wallace-Wells. Conduct a brief call with a friend before I book a
restaurant for a dinner date with my wife. I meet my daughter after her ballet, and then it’s home for
dinner and family time.
7:00 pm Join a regional general counsel call to talk through various issues and outline the agenda for an
upcoming meeting in London.
8:00 pm Bedtime for the children. I have a glass of wine with my wife while we talk about the week ahead.
9:00 pm Last call for the day — a new technology system is being implemented and rolled out globally. I talk
through the likely impact on local clients.
10:00 pm A final check of emails and scope out priorities for tomorrow. Read a chapter of Carol Dweck’s
Mindset then it’s lights out. Yoga tomorrow so it’s an early start!
14 ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL
day in the life jon downes
IN-HOUSE, HOUR BY HOUR
HEAD OF LEGAL –
WILLIS TOWERS WATSON
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